How Long Does Kale Last? [+ Tips to Make It Last Longer]

Bought a bunch of kale but not sure how long it’ll keep for? How long does kale last in the fridge?

In this piece, we cover everything you need to know about the shelf life of kale. That includes going over the differences between bagged and fresh kale and a few tips that help your kale last longer.

Let’s jump right in.

How Long Does Kale Last in the Fridge?

Kale shelf life

You can store kale in the fridge for up to 7 days, according to University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources. Store it in a perforated bag in the crisper drawer, or wrap it loosely with moist paper towels for the longest storage time.

Kale is a plant with quite a short storage time, similar to how long spinach lasts. That means it will wilt and spoil quickly, especially if you leave it in a fairly dry place (say, unwrapped and on a fridge shelf).

Of course, you may get lucky and get a couple extra days beyond the mentioned week of storage time, but don’t count on that. On the contrary, many sources suggest using raw kale within 3 to 5 days for optimal freshness.

Now, you might be wondering if there are any differences in the shelf life of bagged and fresh kale leaves. Let’s tackle that.

Bagged vs. Fresh Kale

Pre-bagged kale

Commercially bagged kale has a use-by date printed on the label, and that date is a good reference point. It’s usually between 5 and 10 days from the day you buy it, and you shouldn’t expect the plant to retain quality for more than an extra day or two.

After opening the package, kale should retain good quality for about 3 to 5 days, though Food Smart Colorado suggests using the leafy greens within two days. If your bag is already pushing its date, that’s about how much time you’ve got.

That means that as long as the package is unopened, bagged kale lasts a bit longer than its fresh counterpart. So if you often end up with bad kale, perhaps switching to pre-washed bagged kale is a better option for you.

Now, what if your kale is already “expired?” Should you still use it?

Expired Kale

Your “expired” kale is okay to eat as long as it’s within a couple of days of the use-by date and doesn’t show any spoilage signs. The date on the label is only a helpful data point, and tossing the plant solely based on it doesn’t make much sense.

In other words, your out-of-date kale is fine if it doesn’t show any kale spoilage signs, and it’s not like two weeks beyond its date.

Cooked Kale

Cooked kale keeps for 3 to 4 days in the fridge. Once cooked, let it cool at room temperature for no longer than two hours, then transfer to an airtight container or lidded pot and refrigerate.

That’s how you go about pretty much any cooked leftovers, and it’s no different for kale.

So, if you’re sauteing a bunch of kale, ensure you use the leftovers within 3 to 4 days or freeze them. Meal-prepping cooked kale for the whole week ahead is a no-go.

Does Kale Need to be Refrigerated?

Fresh kale wilts after only a day or two at room temperature, so refrigerating it is pretty much a must. Place the leafy greens in the crisper drawer, making sure not to overcrowd it to maintain airflow, and store it away from ethylene producers such as apples or bananas.

In other words, unless you plan on using kale leaves the same day you buy it, you should place it in the fridge.

Tips to Make Kale Last Longer

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when storing kale:

  • Wash just before you use it. If your kale isn’t pre-washed, postpone that activity to right before preparing it. Otherwise, it might spoil faster due to excess moisture. And if you wash kale early, use a salad spinner to dry it.
  • Provide airflow. If your kale sits in the crisper drawer, poke holes in the plastic bag or leave the bag half-open so that the plant can get rid of excess moisture. Similarly, allowing ventilation helps cauliflower last longer. Alternatively, you can wrap kale with moist paper towels to soak up that moisture and keep the humidity high. Up to you.
  • Freeze kale if need be. If you have way more kale than you’ll use in the next few days, freeze it. Blanched kale freezes better, so submerge chopped kale in boiling water briefly, cool it in ice water, dry it with a salad spinner and paper towels, and freeze it in an airtight container. Use frozen kale leaves in green smoothies and cooked dishes.

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