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Siberian kale has hardy white stems that run from the base of the root through the leaves. The leaves of Siberian kale are large and flat with edges that have a ruffled shape. Leaves have a delicate texture and are bluish green in color. This kale variety is exceptionally tender and offers a mild cabbage-like flavor. Their texture is much more delicate and flavor mild when compared to that of the more well-known European (Oleracea) varieties of kale. Similar to carrots and other root vegetables Siberian kale will develop a sweeter flavor as the temperature drops and after exposure to frost.
Siberian kale is available in the late winter and early spring months.
Siberian kale is a member of the species Brassica napus also known as Rape seed and part of the Brassicaceae (Cruciferae) or Mustard family. The species Brassica napus is further divided into three subspecies with Siberian kale belonging to subspecies pabularis or pabularia. Along with Red Russian kale, Siberian kale is one of the most well-known varieties of Russian-Siberian kale on the market today in the United States.
Siberian kale is a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C and also contains trace amounts of iron and calcium. Additionally, Siberian kale is rich in carotenoids, to enhance the body’s absorption of carotenoids and other fat-soluble nutrients be sure to pair kale with nuts or oil. Siberian kale also contains glucosinolates which have been shown to aid in liver detoxification.
Siberian kale can be utilized in any recipe calling for kale. It is delicate enough to be used raw in salads yet sturdy enough to stand up to salad dressings. The tender texture and mild flavor of the young leaves are ideal for use in quick stir-fries, salads, juices or atop flatbreads. Full sized leaves work well as a cooked vegetable and can be sautéed, steamed, wilted, fried, dehydrated and even baked. Its flavor pairs well with garlic, shallots, sweet potato, avocado, pancetta, pine nuts, cream based sauces and dressings, butter, olive oil, light bodied vinegars, robust cheeses and fresh herbs such as thyme, sage and rosemary.
Siberian kale was commonly included in the garden of Thomas Jefferson at Monticello.
Native to Northern Asia and Northern Europe Siberian kale is believed to be the result of a chance hybridization of Brassica napa and Brassica oleracea. The species Brassica napus is thought to have first appeared in Europe during the Middle Ages. This hardy variety of kale is easy to grow and is tolerant of both hot and cold extremes in weather. For superior flavor and texture though Siberian kale should be grown in cool to cold, frost prone conditions. They can withstand temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. As a result of its cold hardiness kale such as the Siberian variety has long been a popular vegetable in Europe.