Red Russian Kale

Red Russian Kale
Red Russian Kale
Brassica napus
Grown in 2011.
January 2013 germination test: 95%
Packet = around 300 seeds

I wasn’t planning to save the seed of this widely available kale until we grew a patch so especially prolific and delicious that it convinced me. Even giant stalks were tender, and the bugs that love brassica-family plants left it alone. Great steamed, stir-fried, used raw in salads, or juiced into smoothies. And now that I’ve discovered kale chips, it’s also my favorite fast-food snack.

Culture: Plant just about any time ground will not freeze. Full to 3/4 sun, appreciates good soil but will grow (a smaller version) in less than ideal conditions. Great as a pioneer plant on new gardening ground – it will draw up subsoil minerals. Harvest leaves as needed.

Saving seed: Red Russian Kale is an anomaly among Brassicas in that small populations grown for seed do not succumb to inbreeding depression, but continue to grow vigorously for many generations. In other words, here’s a Brassica you can grow for seed without having space for a hundred plants. It’s wise to grow a large patch every 5 years or however often the plants tell you they need it, but in between, as few as 10 plants will give you all the seed you can figure out what to do with. Red Russian Kale does not cross with other Brassicas, except for its Brassica napus cousins rutabaga and canola. Where canola is grown, I’d recommend trading for Red Russian Kale seeds grown elsewhere to avoid GMO contamination.

Kale chips: tear kale leaves into 3-inch pieces.
In a blender, combine
1/3 cup water
1 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic
pinch of sea salt
2 Tbs. nut butter (I’ve been using macadamia thanks to Kitt and Mary of Hawi Hill Organic Farm, Box 1623, Kapa’au HI 96755)Pour this over kale in a bowl. Add more kale pieces as needed, until kale is evenly but very lightly coated. Here is when a dehydrator is handy – dehydrate until crisp, 5-6 hours at 115 degrees. Or use an oven, 20 minutes at 300 degrees.