Kale is a form of cabbage (Brassica oleracea Acephala Group) in which the central leaves do not form a head. It is considered to be closer to wild cabbage than most domesticated forms. We grow three varieties of kale at Leigh Court Farm, including traditional curly kale (pictured above)
Red Russian kale was introduced into Canada (and then into the U.S.) by Russian traders in the 19th century.
Cavelro Nero (also known as black cabbage or Tuscan Kale) is Italian in origin and traditionally used in Minestrone soup. Both these varieties are more delcious and tender variations of the stouty Curly Green Kale.
Because kale can grow well into winter kale is an invauluable 'Hungry Gap', crop in a season where little else is available. Kale freezes well and actually tastes sweeter and tastier after being exposed to a frost.
A whole culture around kale has developed in north-western Germany around the towns of Bremen and Oldenburg. 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".
Kale is very good source of iron, calcium, vitamin C, Folic Acid, vitamin K and Carotenoids (which provide vitamin A. Due to its high nutritional value it is often recommended as a way to consume many good nutrients.