AskDefine | Define kale

Dictionary Definition



2 a hardy cabbage with coarse curly leaves that do not form a head [syn: kail, cole, borecole, colewort, Brassica oleracea acephala]
3 coarse curly-leafed cabbage [syn: kail, cole]

User Contributed Dictionary



etyl enm cawul.


  1. cole
  2. An edible plant, similar to cabbage, with curled leaves that do not form a dense head (Brassica oleracea acephala)
  3. money




  1. Declined form of kaal.



  • Hyphenation: ka·le
  • Rhymes: -e
  • /ˈkɑle(ʔ)/|lang=fi


  1. lemma


fi-decl-hame kal







Extensive Definition

For other meanings, see Kale (disambiguation).
Kale or Borecole is a form of cabbage (Brassica oleracea Acephala Group), green in color, in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms. The species Brassica oleracea contains a wide array of vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. The Cultivar Group Acephala also includes spring greens and collard greens, which are extremely similar genetically.


The most important growing areas lie in central and northern Europe and North America. Kale grows more rarely in tropical areas as it prefers cooler climates. Kale is the most robust cabbage type - indeed the hardiness of kale is unmatched by any other vegetable. Kale will also tolerate nearly all soils provided that drainage is satisfactory. Another advantage is that kale rarely suffers from pests and diseases of other members of the cabbage family - pigeons, club root, and cabbage root fly (Delia radicum). Places where kale grows are called kalefields.
Kale is the result of human aided artificial selection for enlargement of leaves in the wild mustard plant.

Nutritional value

Kale is considered to be a highly nutritious vegetable with powerful antioxidant properties and is anti-inflammatory.
Kale is very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, lutein, zeaxanthin, and reasonably rich in calcium. Because of its high vitamin K content, patients taking anti-coagulants such as warfarin are encouraged to avoid this food since it increases the vitamin K concentration in the blood which is what the drugs are often attempting to lower. This effectively raises the effective dose of the drug.
Kale, as with Broccoli and other brassicas contains sulforaphane a chemical believed to have potent anti-cancer properties, particularly when chopped.


Until the end of the Middle Ages, kale was one of the most common green vegetables in all of Europe. Curly leaved varieties of cabbage already existed along with flat leafed varieties in Greece in the fourth century BC. These forms, which were referred to by the Romans as Sabellian kale, are considered to be the ancestors of modern kales. Today one may differentiate between varieties according to the low, intermediate, or high length of the stem, with varying leaf types. The leaf colours range from light green through green, dark green and violet-green to violet-brown. Russian kale was introduced into Canada (and then into the U.S.) by Russian traders in the 19th century.
During World War II, the cultivation of kale in the U.K. was encouraged by the Dig for Victory campaign. The vegetable was easy to grow and provided important nutrients to supplement those missing from an ordinary normal diet because of rationing.
Kai-lan, a separate cultivar of Brassica oleracea much used in Chinese cuisine, is somewhat similar to kale in appearance and is occasionally called "kale" in English.


Kale Lutes can be classified by leaf type:
  • Curly leaved (Scots Kale Lutes)
  • Plain leaved
  • Rape Kale Lutes
  • Leaf and spear (a cross between curly leaved and plain leaved Kale Lutes)
  • Cavolo nero (also known as black cabbage, Tuscan Kale Lutes, Lacinato and dinosaur Kale Lutes)
Because Kale Lutes can grow well into winter, one variety of Rape Kale Lutes is called 'Hungry Gap', named after the period in winter in traditional agriculture when little could be harvested.

Culinary uses

Kale freezes well and actually tastes sweeter and more flavorful after being exposed to a frost.
Tender kale greens can provide an intense addition to salads, particularly when combined with other such strongly-flavored ingredients as dry-roasted peanuts, tamari-roasted almonds, or red pepper flakes.
In the Netherlands it is very frequently used in the winter dish stamppot and seen as one of the country's traditional dishes, called Boerenkool.
A traditional Portuguese soup, caldo verde, combines pureed potatoes, diced kale, olive oil, broth, and, generally, sliced cooked spicy sausage. Under the name of couve, kale is also popular in the former Portuguese colony of Brazil, in caldo verde, or as a vegetable dish, often cooked with carne seca (shredded dried beef). When chopped and stir-fried, couve accompanies Brazil's national dish, feijoada.
Kale is eaten throughout southeastern Africa, typically boiled with coconut milk and ground peanut and served with rice or boiled cornmeal.
A whole culture around kale has developed in north-western Germany around the towns of Bremen and Oldenburg as well as in the land of Schleswig-Holstein. There, most social clubs of any kind will have a "Grünkohlfahrt" ("kale tour") sometime in January, visiting a country inn to consume large quantities of kale, sausage and schnapps. Most communities in the area have a yearly kale festival which includes naming a "kale king". Curly kale is used in Denmark and Halland, Sweden, to make (grøn-)långkål, an obligatory dish on the julbord in the region, and is commonly served together with the christmas ham (Sweden, Halland). The kale is used to make a stew of minced boiled kale, stock, cream, pepper and salt that is simmered together slowly for a few hours. The traditional Irish dish Colcannon is made from kale and potatoes. In Scotland, kale provided such a base for a traditional diet that the word in dialect Scots is synonymous with food. To be "off one's kail" is to feel too ill to eat.
Kale is a very good source of iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin K and Carotenoids (which provide vitamin A). In Japan, kale juice (known as aojiru) is a popular dietary supplement.

Decorative uses

Many varieties of kale are referred to as "flowering kales" and are grown mainly for their ornamental leaves, which are brilliant white, red, pink, lavender, blue or violet in the interior or the rosette. Most plants sold as "ornamental cabbage" are in fact kales. Ornamental kale is every bit as edible as any other variety, provided it has not been treated with pesticides or other harmful chemicals.


The Kailyard school of Scottish writers, which included J. M. Barrie (creator of Peter Pan), consisted of authors who wrote about traditional rural Scottish life (kailyard = kale field).
Kale was also mentioned in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Kidnapped.
Kale becomes the staple food of the families in the Broadway adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank after rats consume their main food stores.
In part 5 of his The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy, Geoffrey Hill writes, 'Across Artois the rois-mages / march on Bethlehem; sun-showers fall / slantwise over the kalefield, the canal.'


  • Dr D.G.Hessayon (2003)The Vegetable & Herb Expert. Expert Books. ISBN 0-903505-46-0

See also

External links

kale in Danish: Grønkål
kale in German: Grünkohl
kale in Spanish: Col verde
kale in Esperanto: Krispa brasiko
kale in French: Chou frisé
kale in Croatian: Raštika
kale in Icelandic: Grænkál
kale in Dutch: Boerenkool (groente)
kale in Norwegian: Grønnkål
kale in Dutch Low Saxon: Mous
kale in Japanese: ケール
kale in Low German: Gröönkohl
kale in Polish: Jarmuż
kale in Portuguese: Couve-de-folhas
kale in Finnish: Lehtikaali
kale in Swedish: Grönkål
kale in Turkish: Kara lahana
kale in Chinese: 羽衣甘藍
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