Does Kale Go Bad? How Long Does Kale Last?

Kale is one of those hot new superfoods that is all the rave, and rightly so. Packed with nutrients, this leafy green vegetable is becoming more popular in healthy diets. But can kale go bad? We will discuss that in this article.

Quick Answer

Kale is a leafy green vegetable. As with any other fruit or vegetable, kale will go bad over time. Kale that is left outside will begin to wilt after 2-3 hours. In the refrigerator, kale can stay fresh for about 2 weeks. If you store kale in the freezer, it can last for up to 8 months. Whether it is picked fresh, canned, or frozen, it is good to know the generic timeline for how long kale lasts before it needs to be thrown out. Always check the packaging for specific expiration dates, and do not eat if there is a bad smell or it look to it.


What constitutes whether kale has gone bad? Are there things to look out for? Let’s find out below.

Does Kale Go Bad? How Long Does Kale Last?

You open the fridge to pull out some kale for a salad. You can’t remember exactly when you bought it, but you can tell it’s not looking its best. Should you still eat it, or has it gone bad?

How Long Does Kale Last Outside?

If you grow kale in your garden and decide to leave it in the ground and harvest as needed, it can last for weeks outside. This is because the plant is still getting the nutrients it needs from the sun and soil.

If you buy fresh kale from the store and leave it out on the counter for a while, it will actually start to deteriorate rapidly. After even a few hours, you may notice the kale leaves beginning to wilt and become limp.

The biggest concern with having fresh produce sitting out is the increasing risk for bacteria overgrowth. The longer something sits out, the greater the chance there is for bacteria to grow.

How Long Does Kale Last in the Fridge?

If you buy fresh kale at the store and decide to store it in your refrigerator, you can be confident that it will last for about two weeks before it starts to go bad.

For refrigeration storage, it’s always good to make sure your fridge is set to the appropriate cooling temperature (around 45°F). This ensures optimal kale shelf life, as well as nutrient storage.

You will also want to make sure that you seal the air out of any container your kale is being stored in. This will slow down the oxidation rates, keeping your kale fresher for longer.

How Long Does Kale Last in the Freezer?

If you decide you want to store your kale in the freezer and eat it at another time, you can easily do so. Kale typically does well in the freezer, and if done properly it can last for up to 8 months.

When freezing kale, make sure you properly store it in an airtight container or bag. This will help prevent the kale from getting freezer burn.

Please note that anytime you decide to freeze something, there is a chance that the flavor and texture will be altered. For some this is no problem, but for others it may be off-putting.

The good news is that kale can be stored and preserved to enjoy at a later date. Now, what are some other things to consider when it comes to kale storage?

How To Tell If Kale Has Gone Bad / How To Know Kale Is Fresh?

If you are new to the world of fresh produce, you may be wondering how you can tell if your kale is fresh or if it has gone bad and needs to be composted. Below we will discuss three major elements that give clues to help you decide.

  • Taste: Kale tends to have a strong and robust flavor. If, however, you notice a weird taste, better toss it out.
  • Smell: As bacteria find their way into our foods, they will produce a gas as they begin to break down food components. If your kale begins to smell bad, off, or funky, it’s best to go ahead and compost it. If your area does not allow composting, you may throw the kale away.
  • Appearance: Like many other fruits and vegetables, as kale start to decay you may notice they look a bit slimy. You may also notice mold growing on parts of the leaves, or the leaf color turning from green to yellow, to eventually brown.

The good news here is that, if your kale is still vibrant green, firm and crisp, chances are it is still fresh! Always check the expiration date to be sure.

How to Store Kale?

As discussed above, kale generally can be stored in three ways. Each storage method has an associated timeline with it, as to how long the kale will stay fresh.

  • Outside: Kale can be stored outside for weeks, if it is still in the soil. If it is store-bought, it can stay out on the counter for only a few hours (roughly 1-3) before it starts to go bad.
  • Refrigerator: In the refrigerator, kale can last for about 2 weeks. This is provided there is a good cooling temperature and an air-sealed container or bag.
  • Freezer: Kale can be stored in the freezer for more long-term use. Make sure it is stored in an air-sealed container or bag.

Can You Freeze Kale? How?

You bought some kale and decided you like it, however you bought too much and would like to save the rest to enjoy a month from now. What do you do? Thankfully, there is a way to freeze kale.

  • Clean and Blanche: This method involves submerging the fresh kale into boiling water for a few seconds, then “shocking” them by submerging them in cold water. Pat dry, then place into storage bags.
  • Freezing Whole Leaves: This is simply portioning out your leaves, placing into an air-sealed bag, and labeling with the date.
  • Kale Puree: Another option is to puree the kale, pour into a mold, and freeze that way. This is great if you want to use specific amounts in recipes.

How to Thaw Kale?

You have some frozen kale that you would like to use for a recipe. You may be wondering how to thaw it? There are two general ways, although they both encompass the same principle:

  • Room Temperature: You can pull your frozen kale out and let it sit on the counter until it’s thawed. This may take a couple of hours, so be sure to plan your day and recipe accordingly.
  • Toss Right Into the Recipe: You can also toss the frozen kale directly into your recipe. This works great for smoothies or baked recipes that require kale.

Keep in mind that anytime you freeze a food or liquid, there is a tendency for the consistency and flavor to change. Usually, they don’t change for the better. If properly frozen, kale can keep for a few months.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kale

I’ve Heard That Kale Is Poisonous? You may have heard that kale is poisonous, but is this true? Some scientists have warned that consuming too much of it can lead to heavy metal toxicities, as elements of different heavy metals have been tested positive in parts of the plant.

Is Yellow Or Brown Kale Safe To Eat? If you see that only a small portion of your kale is yellow or brown, you can cut it off and toss that part away. If the whole bunch looks yellowed or brown, you are better off throwing it all away and buying fresh, green kale.

Wrap Up

Kale is a wonderful leafy green vegetable that is enjoyed by many. When stored at room temperature, it will last up to 3 hours. In the fridge, it can last about 2 weeks. If you go the freezer route, it can last 8 months, Proper storage is important, so use air-sealed containers or bags. Do you like to eat kale? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below.

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