This year I started growing perennial kale, more precisely, I obtained some plants of the old Taunton Deane variety. While using the leaves for cooking the first time I noted that my recipes for regular kale won't work - the leaves are too hard.

What do I need to adjust to get softer kale?

  • 1
    Are you selecting from newer (thus usually smaller and more tender) leaves, or older (and tougher and larger) leaves?
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 12, 2023 at 2:53
  • 3
    In my experience, the people who write the cooking time guidelines found in recipes involving kale don't actually like cooked kale. Certainly if you follow their guidelines, what you end up with is not actually cooked by any usual definition. If you triple or quadruple the time, then there's some chance of ending up with something that's suitable for humans instead of rabbits. If your kale is even tougher than usual, you'll just need to cook for a very long time - forget the quick saute in oil, since that doesn't even work for young kale, despite what the recipe-writers try to tell you.
    – Marti
    Sep 12, 2023 at 18:37
  • 1
    I don’t know how well it would work for this variety, but occasionally you will see a suggestion for a massage: m.youtube.com/watch?v=hzCwZVRoknE
    – Joe
    Sep 13, 2023 at 5:44

2 Answers 2


Your recipes will probably work fine if you increase the cooking time significantly and prepare the leaves right. Depending on how thick the stalks are you may want to prepare them differently or leave them out altogether. This advice would work for any thick leaved type of greens.

Preparation: thick stalks may take longer to cook than the leaves themselves, you can end up with mushy leaves but stalks that you can't get a tooth in. So cut the stalks off and keep them separate from the leaves. Leave the stalks whole or at least in good sized chunks

Cooking method: If the stalks are tough then start cooking them first until they start to soften, then add the leaves and cook them until they are all done. The timing to this depends in the type of leaf, how thick the stems are, etc. It may take 10 minutes or even more for some stalks to be cooked enough to add the leaves. Some stalks are so thick that they may never become palatable, that's why you leave them in large pieces - they will be easy to pick out

Cooking time: thick leaves can take a long time to cook, baby spinach can take 3 minutes, thick leaves can take 30 or longer. Just keep simmering and test them until they are done. Just don't let them dry out!

  • I haven’t dealt with this type of kale, but for greens in general, I dice up stems and cook them into pickle relish
    – Joe
    Sep 13, 2023 at 5:34

I never use the stalks. I cut them out. I don't like kale either, and can't wait for them to die down so I can pull the plants out and plant something more edible.

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