Cooking Techniques to Turn Wilted Kale into Tasty Dishes


Abra Berens presenting at National Restaurant Association Show

Knowing the amount of time and energy it takes to grow the vegetables on our Wisconsin farm and Inn Serendipity Bed & Breakfast, it makes us cringe every time we feel compelled to toss a wilted vegetable into the compost. Sure, freezing is always an option and we do preserve a lot of greens in particular that way. But how can we ensure better use of the delectable, superior qualities of fresh as much as possible?

Chef Abra Berens of Granor Farm in Three Oaks, Michigan, is on a mission to champion wilted kale. A leader in helping chefs mitigating food waste, she celebrated the merits of wilted kale at a demonstration she gave at the 2019 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago alongside Hari Pulapaka of Cress Restaurant in Deland, Florida, who shared a broccoli chutney recipe

“The most important reason to mitigate food waste is it honors farmers,” shares Berens, whose passion for zero food waste roots in having both grown up on a farm and working on various operations herself. “By wasting food, we drain resources such as time, labor water and land availability. The beauty of cooking and mitigating food waste is it gives you a new way to look at some of these ingredients that we see day in and day out and discover new ways to showcase the flavors and the farmers that grew them.”

“Is it wilty or rotty? That’s the first question to ask yourself when you come across vegetables that have lingered,” adds Berens. “Use your own senses. If it smells good and looks right, use it up.”

Berens’ creative approaches to using it up are in her cookbook, Ruffage: A Practical Guide to Vegetables. She shares unique and surprisingly easy and tasty techniques to use up vegetables such as to caramelize, braise and blister. At the National Restaurant Association Show, she focused on ways to help restaurant chefs and owners use up the kale to also help their bottom line, but we found her simple ideas something we can readily use on our own homestead.

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