How To Freeze Kale, Collards, and Other Greens

Preserving Greens
For the first time on our new homestead, I've got too much kale and collard greens to eat fresh. This is amazing considering the deer love greens as much as my family! The abundance is a happy thing, though, because greens are easy to preserve for winter eating.

You may certainly can greens, but I find them mushy and disagreeable when preserved this way. You may also dehydrate greens to use in smoothies or to powder and add to various dishes. You may also freeze dry greens for similar purposes. (Learn more about dehydrating vs. freeze drying here.)

But my preferred method for preserving greens is freezing - because frozen greens are most like fresh, cooked greens. Typically, I defrost frozen greens, pop them into a skillet with a dab of bacon drippings or olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and maybe some onion or garlic powder, and saute until bright green. DEElish! You may also use frozen greens in any cooked dish, like casseroles or enchiladas.

But first, you gotta prepare the greens, which may include:

* collards
* kale
* spinach
* mustard greens
* turnip leaves
* kohlrabi leaves
* radish leaves
* Brussels sprout leaves
* broccoli leaves
* cauliflower leaves
* Swiss chard
* and orach.

But no, it's not quite as simple as popping the greens into a freezer bag and tossing them in the freezer. That, my friends, would result in goopy mush. (But it works well for green beans!)

Preparing Greens for Freezing

1. Wash the leaves, and remove all thick stems. I usually tear the leaves off the stems, but you may cut them if you prefer. The stems are edible, by the way, but they require more cooking than the leaves, and I usually just compost them.

2. Roll the leaves into a cigar shape and slice into thin strips. The thicker the leaves, the thinner the slice you'll need. For example, collards are pretty thick and tough, so I cut the slices just under 1/4 inch wide or so. Spinach is pretty thin-leaved, so I make the slices about 1/2 inch wide.
Chopping kale in preparation for freezing.
Blanching Greens for Freezing

3. Fill a large pot with hot tap water and place it over high heat.

4. While waiting for the pot to come to a boil, thoroughly wash and sanitize the sink. Pour ice cubes into the cleaned sink and add cold tap water.

5. When the water in the pot comes to a full boil, carefully add the prepared greens. Blanch for an appropriate amount of time:

Collards = 3 min.
Other greens = 1 - 2 mins.

The thicker (tougher) the leaves are, the more blanching time they require.

6. When the greens are done blanching, place a colander over the opposite side of the sink (the one without ice in it) and strain the greens.

7. Quickly transfer the strained greens to the ice water.*

8. When the greens are completely cool to the touch, use a slotted spoon or your hands to transfer them back to the colander. Allow to them to drain for a few minutes.

Freezing Greens

9. Transfer the greens to freezer-safe containers. Use within 1 year.
Greens blanched, bagged, and ready for the freezer.

*NOTE: A more traditional method is to pour the blanched greens directly into the ice water, without putting them into a colander first. However, I find my method cools the greens faster, thereby stopping the cooking faster, which in turn leads to a more nutritious and fresher-tasting end product.


  1. Excellent advice! I use a hook on wire basket that I got at a thrift store to dip greens into the hot water, then to quickly remove it, run cold water over the greens at the sink, and then dump the chopped greens onto a dish towel on a cookie sheet. Then I dab the excess water off with a paper or cloth towel, remove the towels, put the cookie sheet in the freezer overnight, and the next day remove and bag the greens. Suz