(I promise those are the actual chips, not leaves I picked up and put on platters. From left to right: turnip, kale, collard and mustard in the right hand corner.)
Kale chip recipes have been pretty popular for a year or two now. Earlier this week I was pondering, how come people always use kale? There are plenty of other good greens out there. Is there some reason kale makes a particularly good chip?
I made a bunch of green chips to find out if kale really is the best. I tested the kale against mustard, collard and turnip greens. Here’s the process I used with each batch of greens:
- Tear off pieces of leaves and discard the stems. (I did this until I filled up my salad spinner–a little over 3 cups of well-packed greens.)
- Dry the greens thoroughly.
- On a large cookie sheet, mix with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt (this was likely too much–see note below).
- Bake in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 17 minutes.
Then Mike and I had a chip tasting.
My first impression was that, while I could taste a difference between the different types of chips, the differences were pretty subtle and not anything I could describe.
Mike thought they all tasted the same, although he did note texture differences: Turnip greens were the flakiest, mustard greens were the softest, and the kale chips were the chewiest. I thought the collard greens had the most chew and the mustard greens were the crispiest. (Your choice, are you going to believe me or Mike? :P)
After further tasting, I determined that the turnip greens were the most bitter of the bunch, but only slightly. The collard greens had the earthiest flavor. Even though I baked all the greens for the same amount of time, the mustard greens ended up with more browning than the others–which unfortunately meant the predominant flavor was more of a burnt taste. :( (I had such high hopes for the mustard greens. They have that mustard bite, which I hoped would come through in the chips. No such luck.) And eventually I determined that the kale chips were slightly sweeter. Maybe that’s the secret as to why kale has the lock down on the chip category: chewier and sweeter than most?
From the prep work, I can tell you that the collard and turnip greens were much easier to clean. All those folds of the mustard and kale are really good for trapping grit. Granted, you could get flat-leaf varieties of each. On the other hand, I felt that the kale and mustard greens had a saltier flavor, which I imagine has to do with all the folds doing a better job of holding the salt.
For the amount of greens I was using each time (~3 cups), 1/4 teaspoon of salt was probably too much. I wanted to make sure I was using the same amount on each batch, and that was my guess for a decent amount. It definitely got to be too much after a while.
I should also note that 17 minutes is not some magic number for baked chip awesomeness. That’s just how it worked out in our oven. Anywhere in the 15-20 minute range will do. I’ve seen some recipes with the temperature around 300 degrees Fahrenheit, which baked for 30-45 minutes. And I’ve seen some with the temperature around 425 degrees, which baked for only 5 minutes.
After all this taste-testing, I can conclusively say, you can make chips out of any green and no one will be able to tell what it is. (You could feed people collard chips and tell them they are kale chips. Suckers!) Maybe kale is the best? The seasonings are probably more important than the actual green you use.
If you haven’t tried kale chips yet, give them a try. They’re easy to make, and a fairly healthy snack to have around.