The etiquette rules on how to serve and eat kale. Tips to be the ideal host or the perfect guest and avoid any embarrassment.

What kale etiquette is

Kale etiquette is the set of rules to properly serve and eat kale. Such rules help avoid behaviors that can disrespect your hosts or guests, or make you look unpolite.

If you are hosting, follow the etiquette to serve kale to your guests appropriately.

As a guest, respect the etiquette rules to properly eat kale at the dining table and avoid offending your hosts or embarrassing yourself.

how to serve and eat kale

What you should know about kale

Kale is a leafy green vegetable. It belongs to the same family as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower.

Kale leaves can be curly or smooth in texture and slightly bitter and earthy in flavor. The color of kale can vary from deep green to purple or even black.

Etiquette rules to serve and eat kale

1) How to store kale

The ideal temperature to store kale is between 0°C and 4°C (32°F and 40°F).

To store kale in the pantry, place the unwashed leaves in a plastic bag. Store it in a cool and dry place, with good ventilation, far from sources of heat and direct light. It can last for up to 5 days.

It is best to store kale in the fridge. Wrap the leaves in a damp paper towel, place them in a plastic bag, and store them in the crisper drawer. When properly stored in the fridge, kale can last for up to 2 weeks.

To freeze kale, blanch the leaves for 2-3 minutes and pat them dry. Place them in an airtight container or freezer bag. They can last for up to 6-8 months.

Store sliced or cooked kale in the fridge. Place it in an airtight container. It will last for up to 4-5 days.

2) How to clean kale

To clean kale, remove the tough stems first. Wash the leaves thoroughly under cool running water. Make sure to remove any dirt or debris that may be present.

Kale that has turned bad may have yellow or brown spots and a foul smell, and the leaves may feel slimy or wilted.

3) How to cook kale

Kale can be eaten raw or cooked.

The most common ways to cook kale include sautéing, roasting, or boiling. When cooked, kale becomes tender in texture and takes on a slightly sweeter flavor. Popular dishes that include kale are kale chips, kale salad, kale soup, and kale smoothies.

Kale is a popular ingredient in salads and sandwiches. You can also use it to make juices or smoothies.

4) How to serve & present kale

Kale is appropriate for both formal and informal meals. You can also serve it for breakfast, brunch, or as a snack. Kale can be served as an appetizer, side dish, and main course.

The ideal serving temperature for kale is room temperature or slightly chilled. Present it on a plate or bowl with regular serving utensils. Accompany kale with seasonings, such as garlic, lemon, or olive oil.

Be aware that kale is one of the most disliked foods. Thus, before including it in your menu, it may be considerate to ask your guests whether they have any dietary restrictions or preferences.

5) Food and wine to pair kale with

Kale pairs well with flavors like ginger, nutmeg, or cumin. It goes well with other vegetables, such as sweet potatoes or roasted beets. You can also serve it with grains like quinoa or rice. Avoid pairing it with other strong-tasting vegetables, such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts. The best fruits to pair with kale are apples, pears, or cranberries.

Kale also pairs with cheese, such as feta or Parmesan. It goes well with dairy products like ricotta or goat cheese. It is best to avoid it with strong or pungent cheeses.

You can pair kale with many types of meat. Such as chicken, pork, or beef. The best fish to pair with kale are salmon or cod.

Kale pairs well with many wines, such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, or sparkling wines like Prosecco. It can also go well with beer or cocktails.

6) How to eat kale

When eating kale, it is polite to use a fork or spoon. You can use a knife to cut the leaves into bitesize pieces. In general, it is not appropriate to eat kale with your fingers. However, this may be acceptable in informal settings.

It is common to discard the stems, which can be tough. Discard them on the side of your plate.

Kale etiquette: the worst mistakes

The Rude Index identifies and ranks negative behaviors. 

A high score (8-10) means that the behavior has the potential to trigger a conflict with others. A medium score (4-7) means that the behavior risks making you look inelegant and unsophisticated. Read more about the Rude Index and its methodology here.  

Avoid the most common kale etiquette mistakes:

  • 7/10. Serving kale undercooked or overcooked, as it is important to cook it to the appropriate level of tenderness.
  • 7/10. Serving kale without removing large stems.
  • 7/10. Eating kale with your hands in formal settings.

Additional information for properly serving kale

How many calories per serving?

Counting calories is important to stay healthy and correctly plan a menu.

Kale is low in calories and high in nutrients. Raw kale contains about 50 calories per 100 grams. A single serving of raw kale contains only about 8 calories.

How to buy the best kale

A crucial factor in kale etiquette is serving your guests the best product possible.

Season and availability 

Kale is available year-round. Its peak season depends on the region. The best season to buy kale is usually during spring and fall, when it is likely to be most flavorful and at its freshest.

Choose the best

In commerce, kale is available fresh, frozen, canned, and dried. In general, fresh kale is the most popular.

The most popular varieties of kale are curly kale, Lacinato (or Tuscan) kale, and Red Russian kale. Curly kale is the most common and easiest to find in commerce. Lacinato and Red Russian kale are common at farmers’ markets and specialty stores. These varieties are prized for their textures and flavors.

To buy the best kale, look for leaves that are firm and crisp in texture. The stems should be firm and not woody. Avoid kale with signs of wilting or yellowing, brown spots, or insect damage. Prefer organically grown kale to avoid any chemical residues.

Alternatives to kale

As a substitute for kale, try other leafy greens that are similar in flavor and nutrition and can be used in the same recipes. Common alternatives to kale include spinach, chard, collard greens, and mustard greens.