At the risk of sounding like a big baby, here goes...
I love kale and I know it's really good for you, but I get irrationally stressed over cleaning it, since at least a few leaves are usually covered with aphids. I'm tired of spending so much time looking in every little fold and crevice, and it seems stupid that I get so twitchy just because of some bugs on my food. Have any of you found a faster method for removing the little buggers, than going leaf-by-leaf and picking them off?
My mom once suggested soaking in soapy water, but that didn't work for me. I've also tried just blasting them with the faucet, which doesn't work either, and right now I have a leaf soaking in salt water...still waiting to see the results of that one.
I keep trying to tell myself, "They're just extra protein!", but not working :)
Any input is really, really appreciated!
So I won't say just eat it -- but that's what I would do.
Soak in water and vinegar, that will kill off any of the remaining eggs and any bacteria (although it's mostly good bacteria), might not completely remove them, but that ensures that you won't be eating anything other than some shells.
I love kale too, and it can be such a pain to clean, but I tend to wash each leaf individually under running water and set them aside in colander to dry and then remove the spine and chop.. it's a labor of love. I tend to go for broccoli raab now instead since it seems to scratch the same itch as kale for me, and is a much easier clean, boil it for a few minutes in salted water, drain and then saute. It is much faster and easy with higher reward for efforts, and the leaves are just amazing and remind me of kale, a nice bite, some bitterness, and amazing with garlic and butter!
I've just come to the conclusion that it is a pay or play dichotomy. If you don't want to eat bug bits you have to do the work, or pay someone else to, and buy the pre-bagged washed or frozen stuff.
I have a few methods. One if there aren't too many buggers, is just to take a damp paper towel and quickly wipe down the backside of each leaf and then rinse briefly.
The other like CD said, is to soak those leaves in water with vinegar for a while and agitate every few minutes. It gets the grit off too, which will sink to the bottom. I use my salad spinner to make changing the water easier, and do at least two washes. Then you lay them out on a dish or paper towel, flip them over and remove any remaining critter bits with your fingernail, q-tip, or paper towel.
Let them soak for about 20 minutes in warm water. Any bugs will drown and then float to the top of the water. Rinse individual leaves if you have a lot of small bugs like aphids. That's what we did with ours to prep for the Farmer's Market. Now I try to buy from people who make the effort to give me clean vegetables.
I soaked mine in tepid water and a generous dose of hydrogen peroxide for 20 minutes or so, agitating them once or twice. All the little critters came off, floating in the water and concentrating at the edge of the sink, it was disgusting, there must have been a thousand of them. I rinsed the greens in the other sink, as I usually would, to get any that may have stuck to the leaves due to the soak water being so dense with them. After inspection, I found only a stray one or two that were stuck only by water as they were completely waterlogged and unable to function. I am a raw food juicier and wonder if we miss one here or there and consume it uncooked is there a risk of the insect carrying a pathogen, I.e.:parasite,virus,bacteria,fungus, that could infect us?
Well here's what I did BEFORE I read the answers on this blog. My nephew grew this kale and gave it to me. He showed me the aphids and suggested I try to brush them off as well as rinse. So I had the perfect tool. a mushroom brush which is delicate enough to not tear the leaves yet strong enough to shoo the aphids off with the help of cold water. My water pressure just doesn't seem strong enough to rinse the bugs off! They hold on tight and are still there. But with the mushroom brush they were easily persuaded to swim down the drain. Yes, this is painstaking as I had to wash each leaf individually, both sides. But worth it. THEN, I instinctively placed all the leaves in a large stainless mixing bowl (VERY large bowl). I poured about 1 to 2 tablespoons of BRAGGS Apple Cider Vinegar and agitated the mix and left it to soak for an hour. I certainly DO NOT want to soak my greens in tepid water nor do I wish to put Hydrogen Peroxide on the vegetables. Seems to defeat the purpose of eating organically. Well. I'm happy with this method. i use balsamic vinegar in my dressing anyway so the BRAGG vinegar will not harm according to my liking. One lastword on this topic overall. That is somethng I remember from a friend. She was trying to sell me on the idea of certain LIVE water that is ionized or energized in some way. I forgot the name of the process but the devotees claim many astounding health properties from using this type of water for drinking and for rinsing. Some of you probably already know (more than me) what I'm talking about. P.S. the Mushroom Brush can be gotten at a good culinary shop like Williams-Sonoma or the like. Best regards to all you conscious folks!
eat them! they get really bad on the farms I have worked at in the southwest during the winter, when aphids sense cold they reproduce like mad! they would be so thick you could scoop em off and the farm kitties would hang around to lick them off my fingers.
Tonight I noticed fat, round, brown bugs of some kind (all dead it seemed) in the kale, and I never noticed this before. Granted, I've only bought kale once before, and it's not organic.
Are these things aphids? I am unfortunately familiar with the usual variety- small, white, all over my basil and tomatoes. The kale bugs were similar to lentils. Truly scary stuff!!
Anyway, dunked the kale in a big bowl of water, poured out bugs and water, repeated two or three times. Then rinsed each leaf individually. Took quite a bit of time, but people rave about kale pesto, and I was determined!
If you can get them in your area, switch to collard greens. They have lovely large, thick and SMOOTH leaves that are very easy to clean and even tastier than kale.
My standard cleaning method for greens is to completely immerse them in a sink or large bowlful of water and swish them around. Do that 3 times, changing water in between, with the first immersion in salty water to drive out the critters.
Our CSA introduced a population of commercial ladybugs and it took care of the aphid problem. In his case it was in response to damage to his crop, whereas it sounds like your producer doesn't mind them in which case you may just have to live with them.