For most of the twentieth century, kale was used for purely decorative purposes only. Times have changed! Thanks to research in recent years, kale is everywhere. In salads, chips, pizza toppings, green juices, smoothies and just about every other place you can imagine.
The green, leafy, winter vegetable is more than a trend; it’s here to stay. And that’s for a good reason. The Queen of Greens is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. Its nutrients support healthy bones and a strong heart. It makes your hair shine and your skin glow. It’s the perfect ingredient for our green juices.
I’ll cover the most common questions on how to juice kale and give you all the information you need.
How to Juice Kale 101:
Can You Juice Kale?
Absolutely! You not only can juice kale, but you should. Kale is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. It’s the perfect ingredient for your healthy juices.
It might look like you don’t get much juice out of kale, especially if you are using a centrifugal juicer. However, the juice you can get out of it is precious and bursting with nutrients.
Can You Juice Kale Stems?
Of course! Don’t waste the stems. Kale stems are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. Your juicer is well able to juice them and get all of those nutrients into your glass.
When you are cooking or making fresh kale salads, save a bunch of the stalks and put them into your juicer. You will be surprised how much juice you can get out of them.
How to Prepare Kale for Juicing
First, remove any brown spots from the kale leaves. Check the leaves for bugs, especially if you have bought it from the farmers’ market. Then wash the kale by holding it under running water first.
Use baking soda to wash your produce. It effectively removes any remaining pesticide residues:
- Roughly chop up the kale
- Fill a bowl with water
- Add a teaspoon of baking soda
- Soak for at least 5 minutes
- Occasionally scrub with a brush
- Rinse off
When preparing kale for juicing, always make sure to wash it thoroughly. Grit can easily hide among the leaves.
What Is the Best Way to Juice Kale?
The best way to juice kale is using a masticating juicer. Masticating juicers are also called slow juicers or cold press juicers, and are good at getting every drop of juice out of kale.
Every type of juicer is best for different purposes. Centrifugal juicers work well for hard produce like apples and carrots. Masticating juicers are better for leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard or spinach.
If you want to juice parsley, mint or wheatgrass often, consider purchasing a masticating juicer. Learn more: The Best Juicer for Leafy Greens
How to Juice Kale in a Centrifugal Juicer
Don’t expect too much juice from kale using a centrifugal juicer. That shouldn’t discourage you. Kale is one of the best greens for you, and the juice you get out of it is very healthy.
If you are juicing a lot of organic leafy greens like kale, spinach, Swiss chard or lettuce, you might want to consider getting a masticating juicer. You will get more juice out of it.
Having said that, here are some tips to get more juice out of kale using a centrifugal juicer:
- Roughly chop up the kale and set aside.
- First juice base items, like celery and cucumber.
- Turn the juicer off and wait until your juicer stops turning.
- Sandwich the kale between fruits. Put an apple or another hard fruit in, then load up some kale on it, and put another fruit on top and turn your juicer back on. Sandwiching the kale between the fruits is going to help your centrifugal juicer to extract the juice from the kale.
- You could also wrap your kale around a carrot or another hard vegetable like celery. It improves the density and yields more juice.
- After you have finished juicing all of your leafy greens, juice some more high water content vegetables and fruits, like zucchini, celery or cucumber.
How to Juice Kale in a Blender
If you are serious with juicing, it’s best to invest in a juicer. Juicing is very different from blending. A blender does not separate the pulp and fiber from vegetables as a juicer does.
I’m aware that fiber is important, but we can get plenty of fiber in the food we eat. We don’t need any extra fiber in our juices.
If we are removing the fiber from the vegetables and fruits, we are getting the nutritional value in liquid form. It makes it much easier for our body to digest them. It goes straight into our bloodstream and gives us an instant feeling of well-being.
It is possible to make green juice in a blender without the pulp, but it’s complicated.
Here’s how to juice kale in a blender:
- Cut the kale leaves into small chunks.
- Pour one cup of water in your blender pitcher.
- Add the leaves and pulse your blender several times. Then blend for at least 1 min on the highest setting. If you don’t have a high-speed blender, you might want to add the leaves a little at a time and blend at least for two minutes. Add more water, if it’s too thick.
- Strain the blended kale leaves through a strainer into a container.
For me, it’s not worth the struggle, and I would recommend you get a juicer. They become less and less expensive, and you can get started with less than $60.
My Favorite Kale Juice Recipes
➀ Kale Juice for Beginners
A kale juice recipe for beginners. The fruits give it a delicious, sweet taste.
Kale Juice for Beginners
- 4 leaves Kale
- 1 Apple
- 3 rounds Pineapple
- 1 handful Parsley
- ½ Cucumber
Core the apple. Peel cucumber, if it's not organic. Enjoy!
- Total Juice Yield: 9 oz
- Carbohydrates: 56g
- Fat: 1g
- Protein: 7g
➁ Green Green
A more advanced green juice recipe.
- 2 leaves Kale
- 2 Bok Choy
- 1 Cucumber
- 3 handful Spinach
- 1 handful Parsley
- 1 Lemon
Peel Lemon and Cucumber, if they're not organic. Enjoy!
- Total Juice Yield: 9 oz
- Carbohydrates: 24g
- Fat: 1g
- Protein: 9g
➂ Green Power
This energy-boosting juice is the perfect way to start your day.
- 2 leaves Kale
- 8 stalks Celery
- 1 handful Parsley
- ½ Ginger Root
- 1 Apple green
Peel ginger. Core the apple and enjoy!
- Total Juice Yield: 11 oz
- Carbohydrates: 30g
- Fat: 2g
- Protein: 13g
How to Make Green Juice with Kale
➀ Always Start with a Base
When you are juicing leafy greens like kale, always start with a base. You won’t get much juice out of kale, that’s why we need other base items in our juices. Base items are vegetables with high water content, a lot of liquid in it. Hydrating vegetables include:
My favorite base combo by far is cucumber and celery. I love the refreshing taste, and they cut through the intensity of leafy greens. Carrots are also great; their sweetness easily helps mask the stronger flavor of kale. Base items not only give your juices the liquid it needs, but they also make your green juice taste good.
➁ Add Kale and Other Leafy Greens
Every green juice should have at least some leafy greens in it. If you are a beginner, start slow and work your way up.
My favorite leafy veggies for green juice are:
- Swiss Chard
- Collard Greens
➂ Add Citrus
Citrus fruits are perfect for almost every green juice. Lemons are good for you and taste great. I can’t tell you how many times I have used lemons to fix a juicing recipe.
Limes, tangelos and tangerine, and oranges add a similar light taste to your juices.
If you are juicing organic lemons, try juicing them whole. The zest and the pith contain most of the nutrients.
➃ Add a Sweet Component
The easiest way to make your green juice delicious is by adding some sweet fruits.
Many people fear too many fruits can cause the blood sugar to rise. It’s true, but I wouldn’t worry too much about it. When I started juicing several years ago, I couldn’t stand the taste of veggie juice. I would juice 50% fruits and 50% vegetables.
Fruits acted like a spoonful of sugar that made me enjoy my medicine (the green juice). Over time my taste buds got used to vegetables, and now I not only enjoy but crave my daily green juice. I usually just add half a lemon or one green apple to my juices, and I love the taste.
I don’t think I could have been able to develop this healthy habit if I wouldn’t have liked the taste of my juices right from the beginning.
If you still can’t enjoy the taste of your green juice after adding fruits, add a natural sweetener like monk fruit. Monk fruit has been used as a sweetener for centuries and has no calories and no effect on your blood sugar. For me it’s the perfect sweetener, it tastes great, and it also contains antioxidant properties.
It’s not only the perfect sweetener to make your green juices taste good, but you can use monk fruit to sweeten almost anything.
Further Tips for Juicing Kale
- Don’t drink 100% kale juice; it is too much of a good thing. If you are new to juicing kale, start slow. Add 1 or 2 leaves to your juices and work yourself up.
- Try to rotate your vegetables. The key is adding different types of leafy greens in your juices every week. You don’t want to overdose on any green. This way you will get all the different nutrients without overloading on anything.
- Kale is fantastic, but keep it in moderation. Anything in large quantities isn’t good for you.
Benefits of Juicing Kale
➀ Low in Calories
Green juice mostly made with green vegetables, such as kale, are very low in calories and give your body the nutrients it needs every day while staying within your daily calorie goal. 4 ounces of pure kale juice only contains approximately 35 calories.
➁ Rich in Iron
Kale juice is rich in iron. Per calorie, it has even more iron than beef. Iron is one of the essential minerals. Your body cannot produce red blood cells without iron. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to all parts of your body. If your body isn’t able to produce enough of these cells, your body is not getting enough oxygen, and you will feel tired all the time.
Iron is also essential to maintain healthy nails, skin, and nails. Dark circles and pale skin are common signs of iron deficiency. A healthy dose of kale juice can give your skin its glow back.
➂ Loaded with Vitamin K
Kale overflows with vitamin K. The juice of one kale leaf (that’s only nine calories) contains 142% of the daily value. Vitamin K is essential for healthy bones and helps to stop bleeding from wounds. It might also help people who have Alzheimer’s disease.
A deficiency in vitamin K can lead to increased bleeding and osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis.
➃ Glowing Skin
When you drink kale juice regularly, you’ll be even more beautiful than before. It’s an excellent skin cleanser. It detoxifies your skin from within and lets it glow.
The antioxidants in kale juice protect your skin by fighting free radicals, which damage skin cells. It helps in keeping wrinkles and fine lines away.
The high vitamin C content helps your skin produce collagen. Collagen is more than an ingredient in your favorite body lotion. They are long strands of protein that holds your skin cells together and makes it firmer.
Our body’s collagen production tends to slow down as we age. Let’s fight back with kale juice. The juice of four kale leaves contains 112% of the daily value of vitamin C.
Other nutrients like vitamin E, selenium, zinc also play an essential role in keeping our skin looking young.
Nothing can compare to nourish your skin from the inside out.
➄ Fights Acne
If you have acne, give kale a try. Its high anti-inflammatory properties help you reduce skin inflammation. It’s even more powerful in fighting acne than broccoli.
➅ Shiny Hair
Kale is a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which keep the scalp and hair moisturized. The iron in kale helps to maintain the elasticity of your hair and strengthens it. The antioxidants present in it can keep dandruff at bay.
Besides drinking kale juice, you can wash your hair with the juice and then wash your hair with a mild shampoo right after it.
➆ Eye Health
Kale is rich in “the eye vitamin” lutein and zeaxanthin. They are both essential for vision health. Lutein acts as a light filter and protects our eyes from sunlight damage. The two types of carotenoids reduce your risk for cataracts and macular degeneration.
➇ Heart Health
The vitamin C, B6, and potassium in kale juice are all essential for a healthy heart.
Potassium, an essential electrolyte, is especially important for your nerves and muscles, including your heart. Getting more potassium and less salt in your diet can reduce the risk of high blood pressure, stroke and heart diseases. The majority of American adults consume too little potassium, less than 2% meet the daily intake.
The vitamin B6 may fight heart disease by lowering levels of homocysteine, an amino acid. A high level of homocysteine in the blood can lead to inflammation in the blood vessels and is correlated with strokes and heart attacks.
The vitamin C in kale juice may help to keep your arteries flexible and lower blood pressure.
➉ Cancer Prevention
Kale is rich in organosulfur compounds, which are sulfur-containing chemicals. These chemicals are responsible for the bitter flavor of kale. Studies have shown that these compounds may reduce the risk and inhibit the growth of cancer.
Are There Any Side Effects?
- If you are taking blood-thinning medications, like warfarin, kale juice is not for you. Kale is high in vitamin K, which lowers the drugs’ anti-clotting properties.
- Hyperkalemia is the term that describes a potassium level that’s higher than average. If you are diagnosed with hyperkalemia, your doctor probably recommended a low-potassium diet and kale juice should not be a part of it.
- If you are taking hypertension medication, please talk to your doctor first before beginning to juice kale. The high potassium content in kale juice may interfere with your medication.
Although kale juice should be good for you, moderation is best in all things. Try to rotate your greens weekly.
How Many Varieties of Kale Are There?
I honestly don’t even know how many varieties of kale are there, but let’s stick to the most common ones:
Kale is part of the group called cruciferous vegetables. This group also includes other leafy greens like broccoli and cabbage. The kale plant has mostly green or purple leaves, but there even exists a white-colored type.
Curly kale is the one you will see most often in grocery stores. It has a bright green or purple color and ruffled curly leaves. It tastes almost a bit peppery and has a bitter flavor. If you never tried kale before, then you might want to start with this variety. You will have no problem finding it. It’s widely available in the fresh produce sections of grocery stores.
Lacinato Kale (Tuscan Kale, Dinosaur Kale)
Lacinato kale has been grown in Tuscany since the 18th century and has a long tradition in Italian cuisine.
The kale variety is also called Dinosaur Kale because of its bumpy texture, which looks like dinosaurs’ skin. At least that’s what I would imagine dinosaur’s skin to look like. It has an almost blue-green, dark shade of green and is more robust and firmer than curly kale.
It’s my favorite kale for juicing, as it tends to be a little bit sweeter and more delicate than the curly variety. Lacinato kale also tastes great in salads.
Red Russian Kale
Image: flickr – bobistraveling Licence: CC By 2.0
Once a rarity, red Russian kale is more common today. You can find it at farmers’ markets, in CSA boxes and some health food stores. The red kale variety has a sweet and delicate flavor and is a great option to get your taste buds introduced to kale. It’s even sweeter than lacinato kale.
Baby Kale are the leaves of the young kale plant. Their flavor is mild and entirely different to mature kale. It’s surprisingly sweet. I would juice it more often if it were easier to get in the area I live.
Which Kale Is The Most Nutritious?
There isn’t much difference between the different varieties. Just choose the one you like the most.
Where to Buy Kale?
Farmers’ markets are my favorite place to shop for kale. You usually can find a wider variety of different types of kale there.
Always look for markets that are “producer-only”. Farmers’ markets are sometimes set up by wholesalers, who sell the same fruits and vegetables you can get in grocery stores.
If you have found a good farmers’ market near you, try to arrive at the end of the day. Vendors don’t want to haul unsold goods back home and might give you a good deal.
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. When you join a CSA, you buy a share of vegetables from a local farmer. Some CSA pick the produce for you, while others allow you to choose. They deliver the fresh greens to a drop-off location near you or directly to your door.
If you are shopping for kale in grocery stores, please make sure that the kale is being stored in a chilled area. I wouldn’t buy kale that is not refrigerated. Kale gets more and more bitter the longer it’s out in room temperature. It also tends to degrade rather quickly.
Kale has long been on the Dirty Dozen list. The Dirty Dozen list shows produce with the highest loads of pesticide residues. Although it didn’t make it on the list this year, I still think it’s safer to buy organic kale.
When you are purchasing kale, please make sure to check the stems and leaves. On fresh kale, these should be firm. Don’t buy if it’s floppy. Yellowish or brownish looking leaves are a clear sign that the kale is starting to go bad.
How to Store Kale?
Kale is one of the greens that you can wash and prepare a few days in advance. I store any fresh kale that I don’t juice right away, in an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid. Chop up the kale, wash it and dry in a salad spinner. Properly stored in an airtight container, it should keep well for about three days.
You could also store whole bunches in your fridge. Wrap the kale in paper towels or thin cotton kitchen towel and store in a large freezer bag. Put them in the crisper drawer. It should keep well for 5-7 days.
Kale is the perfect ingredient for our green juices. It’s one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet. By adding it to your juices, you can boost the nutritional value substantially. If you want to get the most juice out of kale, consider getting a slow juicer. They are well worth the investment if you plan to juice leafy greens often.