Kale perfection

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Sometimes it can be a bit tricky to cook and preserve your crops in a way that everyone in the family enjoys. This year we have found ourselves with a lot of kale. This super green has numerous health benefits but is not very popular, at least in our house, when steamed or stir-fried. We have been doing some research and cooked up a few batches with different flavourings, in the hunt for perfectly crunchy, delicious kale chips. Here in Ireland they would probably be known as kale crisps though.

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Kale chips/crisps are healthier than potato chips/crisps and in our opinion much tastier.

We make ours in the dehydrator but an oven can also be used, although it takes longer and the resulting product is not as crunchy and tends to retain less of its green colour. If cooking in the oven you need to keep the temperature low and leave the door slightly ajar.

You start by rinsing your kale and shaking it dry, this is best done outdoors where the kale can be swung around vigorously to get rid of as much moisture as possible. Tear the kale into bite size pieces and discard the tough centre stem. You need more than you think as the drying process drastically reduces the volume.

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To flavour our first batch we whizzed up some almond butter, peanuts, sesame oil, turmeric, korma curry powder, fresh garlic and ginger, lemon juice, honey, salt and black pepper. Your paste should be quite thick and need to be massaged with your hands into you kale pieces. The aim is to cover each piece in an even layer of paste.

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For this batch we used Russian kale. We added lots of calendula petals to the mix for beautiful colour and added nutritional benefits. You can experiment with the amount of flavouring and if you get left over paste it is great to use in cooking.

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We spread them out evenly on our drying sheets and added them to every second shelf as they need the space. In the dehydrator it took about four hours to dry them on 57degrees Celsius / 135degrees Fahrenheit.

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Our second batch of the day was made with curly kale and a slightly Japan inspired flavouring made from sesame oil, soy sauce, Japanese rice vinegar, almond butter, lemon juice, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, salt and pepper. We also cut up three sheets of nori seaweed and added it along with more sesame seeds to the kale after massaging in the paste.

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We cooked this batch in a similar manner, rotating and turning the dehydrator racks half way through to ensure an even result.

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The kale chips/crisps really are a fabulous way to add a whole range of healthy ingredients to your cooking and preserving endeavours. The only limitation for flavourings is your own imagination. We think paprika powder, onion, sun dried tomatoes, olives, olive oil, herbs and any and all nuts and seeds would give great results.

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The finished product can be stored in a tin or other airtight container and would probably keep and stay crunchy for weeks or even months but it only ever lasts a couple of days in our house. Good thing kale grows over winter here and makes a comeback in spring so we can enjoy this great tasting snack for most of the year.

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