Kale: you love it or you hate it. I don’t think too many people have a lukewarm reaction to this vegetable, either way. I’ve really fallen in love with kale over the past couple of years. It’s actually overtaken my other favourite green, Swiss chard, and I try to eat it several times a week when it’s in season. I love my kale lightly wilted and tossed with a bit of butter, so I really haven’t experimented a lot with it. I do sometimes add it to a stir fry recipe or a soup, but I just never seem to get around to making the kale chips that I’ve been wanting to taste for a long time now.
First Time Trying Kale Chips
We did finally try kale chips from the farmers market this summer. And I have to say, I was more than a little disappointed. I didn’t care for the texture and I found the “chips” didn’t really taste like anything – not even of kale! There were parts that were so dry, it was like eating something I’d raked up off the lawn. Other parts of the chips were so chewy that I wondered about turning kale into some kind of jerky.
I can say that I wouldn’t buy those particular kale chips again. They didn’t satisfy any craving, and just left me wanting a glass of water and a real snack.
But I think a big part of the problem was that the vendor had made the chips with curly kale, which is pretty delicate and doesn’t bake evenly. The edges of the kale were breaking off, even as I picked up the chips. And there was a burnt taste to what was left of those edges when I popped the pieces in my mouth. Definitely not a pleasant experience!
Many recipes do call for curly kale, unfortunately. I think that’s a poor choice. The leaves of curly kale are more dense near the stem and less so at the outer edge. Even with the extra bulk from the frills at the edge, the middle of the leaf is going to take a fair bit longer to cook up than the curly bit. When you saute or wilt the greens, that’s not a problem. (Just be sure to remove the stems first and, if cooking them with the leaves, chop them up like celery. Otherwise, you can save them for another recipe or add them to your soup bag.)
Best Types of Kale for Kale Chips
But when you make kale chips, you want to choose a kale that has a more even leaf. Think dinosaur kale (aka Tuscan, Lacinato, or black kale) for chips, as this kale variety has flatter leaves with a more even thickness. If you prefer something more exotic like Red Russian kale, great!
But avoid the curly-leafed varieties. You want to choose a kale variety that has smooth, flat, even leaves. And honestly, the thicker leaves are going to give you a bit more substance when you bite into them. I know Kare of Kitchen Treaty talks about kale chips that literally melt in your mouth. But I think if you want to have that sort of chip, your best bet is probably to make them in the dehydrator very slowly and to use young curly kale leaves that you cut into short pieces. Set your dehydrator to a low temperature, and let the chips dry slowly over time – that means around 5 hours instead of the 15-30 minutes that you’d need to bake the kale chips in your oven.
What to Expect from Kale Chips
Kale chips are not potato chips. They aren’t like potato chips. They don’t replace potato chips. If you buy or make kale chips, expecting them to be in any way similar, you will be disappointed. Kale chips are not crunchy. And, although some oil is used in the recipe, they aren’t deep fried like the majority of potato chips. So they aren’t going to be greasy, either.
Kale chips are a little like a savoury cousin of dried apples or pears. They tend to be more chewy than crunchy. So for the taste, I find the kale flavour doesn’t really come through in the chips. So your chips will taste like whatever you season the kale with. That can be plain, old sea salt. Or you might want to try garlic salt, chili powder, or any other spices you like when you cook with kale. There are lots of kale chips recipes that include seasoning blends, so if you aren’t sure what to try you can easily find a recipe online. Alternatively, you could just make salted kale chips and dip them into hummus or any other dip.
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Original content © 2017 Kyla Matton Osborne, aka #RubyWriter
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