Tuesday, August 4, 2015

How to Clean Your Kale - Ahh Bugs!!

This is purple kale, I was so excited to pick it up in my CSA box this week.  I pick up on Tuesdays and then I set aside part of the afternoon (right after I pick up my box) to clean and prep all the produce that I picked up. That is one of the best ways to be sure you will use it all and to help you begin to menu plan for the upcoming week. 

So there I was, innocently in my kitchen prepping veggies, I got some absolutely adorable little baby carrots fresh from the ground with dirt all over them, and I was totally having a mother earth moment and thinking to myself - how fabulous am I that I am getting these vegetable with the dirt still on them, and they are so precious and beautiful. I even took some photos of the carrots with the dirt on them, and onions with the dirt on them.... blah blah... you see where I am going.. 

Then I get to this lovely bunch of kale and start to trim the stems and sort through the leaves... and there were a couple of powdery looking spots. - I honestly didn't think anything of it because it reminded me of the "dust" that comes on plums. - Anyway, I took my thumb and rubbed at it... and IT WAS BUGS!!!!!

Now, I don't want to under-impress upon you how totally freaked out and over-the-top crazy I went.

There may have actually been enough shrieking that people came into the kitchen to investigate.

In hindsight, I may not have freaked out if I was expecting to see the bugs, but they totally ruined my moment of veggie-zen and bugged themselves all over my moment!  It was gross.

Now keep in mind, up until a little bit ago, I was all about processing the crud out of my food. So this is kinda a hard step for me. 

I tossed the whole bunch into the sink and filled it up with water -  to neutralize the bugs and to think about what I was going to do about this kale.  ( I tossed the lettuce in too, just in case - but I shouldn't have it was fine and I just made it dirty) 

I discovered that aphids (the bugs) are really common on kale.  I have had them a ton on my roses and they don't bother me there at all. Roses are pretty prone to aphids, but you just spray them off really good for a few days and they don't come back. That means that step 1 of aphid remove is - 

1. Spray them with your faucet really good - did it get rid of them... no? Continue to Step 2. 

Fill up your sink with water, some people use a large bowl, but I use my sink (why dirty a dish?) Put your kale (or any leafy green) into it to soak and eventually be washed. 

2. Soak them in your sink with your choice of - Salt, Vinegar, or a drop or two of dish soap. 

With roses when you are fighting a really bad aphid infestation, you make a mixture of dish soap and spray your roses with it, I know it sounds like it might be too "mild" but it really works. 

Also, on just a side note.....  You put salt in your food, you eat vinegar all the time, and you wash your dishes that you eat off of with dish soap - although it sounds really strange at first to be washing your food like this, it starts to make A LOT of sense when you think about it. 

This is totally a graphic image of the aphids meeting their death in my sink. I was too flipped out to take any "before" pictures, so you'll just have to use your imagination on those.

After letting your greens soak, drain the water from your sink and rinse them really well. Picking through each leaf and if you are eating ones that are curly, unfold the edges of the leaves, be sure you check along the spines where the dirt (and critters) like to hide. There is no way to quickly get through this step - if it bothers you to eat the extra protein, then you are going to have to get rid of it.

Be sure to drain the leaves on a towel and pat dry or spin them in a salad spinner until all the water is off the leaves. Then toss them into a plastic bag to store and into your fridge. Kale can keep a really long time in your fridge, but you worked so hard for it - you should enjoy it soon.

It turns out that I am actually much more calm about this now than I was that night. I think I would rather wash off some friendly little buggies that decided my dinner was good enough for them too. I am definitely not in that same type of mood when it comes to earwigs and caterpillars in corn though!