How To Tell If Kale Is Bad? 4 Signs To Check

Kale is delicious because of its fresh flavor and crunchy texture, making it an excellent ingredient for many recipes. However, this idea is only true if you use fresh kale. 

How to tell if kale is bad? How can you store kale? So today’s topic is signs of bad kale and some storage tips. Let’s join us to find the answers! 

How To Tell If Kale Is Bad?

With a lot of effort and time, you have successfully grown your kale. But you cannot eat all of them since some may turn bad. Fresh kale is different from spoiled one. You can quickly tell the differences through some points. 


The main factor in determining if kale has spoiled is appearance. Bad kale starts to wilt, turn soggy, or become damp. It will lose its water when stored for a lengthier time than recommended.

Moreover, you don’t see the dark green color of the leaves anymore. Instead, they turn yellow or even brown. Chlorophyll cannot grow inside the vegetable in this situation.


Your vegetable has definitely gone bad when its earthy aroma has faded. Rotten kale will emit a revolting sulfur-like odor that is similar to the gaseous smell of broccoli or rotten eggs. The bad kale smells worse when cooked.


Fresh kale has stiff and crisp leaves. You will fall in love with such crunchy texture at the very first bite. 

Bad kale, however, has a limp and pliable texture that brings a different effect. You should throw the leaves away as soon as they become slimy to the touch.


In addition to being nutritious, kale tastes terrific when cooked with sulfur and herbs. As a member of the Brassica family, kale has a flavor similar to broccoli and cabbage.

When it goes bad, though, its flavor dramatically changes. Your veggies will taste bitter and sour after being stored since the sulfur aroma is more intense than usual.

Some people store kale in the refrigerator. And they still eat the vegetable even when it turns yellow on many parts. However, we don’t recommend it. This spoilage state will ruin your entire dish. 


Fresh vegetables do not have anything growing on them. This rule remains true for kale. So if you notice mold, sludge, or life-form growth, such as black patches, on your kale, discard it right away. 

Another sign to check is that mold develops on a liquid layer caused by moisture isolated from the leaves. 

When checking for mold, you may see some black spots, but they are not always bad. If you can wash them easily with water, your vegetable is still edible because the black dots are just soil grit. 

Do not forget to eliminate affected parts of the plant. Leaf vegetables like kale and zucchini suffer a lot from disease.  

How Long Does Kale Last? 

How Long Does Kale Last

Kale doesn’t last very long, like other leafy vegetables. Because of the high moisture content of the leaves, once picked, kale will gradually begin to go bad.

The shelf life of kale depends on where and how you store it. The ideal environment to maximize its shelf life is in the freezer. 

Room temperature Refrigerator Freezer
Fresh kale 3-4 hours 5-7 days 8 months
Bagged kale  3-4 hours 7-10 days 8 months
Cooked kale 1-2 hours 3-5 days 3 months 

At room temperature

Fresh kale will last for around three to four hours at room temperature. It won’t last as long as three hours, though, if it’s hotter than usual.

After that, the leaves will start to become droopy. You can use them for cooking, but they’re not fresh enough for salad. 

Bagged kales can remain good for three to four hours, whether opened or unopened. If you intend to use them later, store them in the fridge. 

You can eat cooked kale after keeping them on the stovetop for one to three hours. But depending on the ingredients you added, they might not last more than one hour. 

In the refrigerator

You can store fresh kales in the refrigerator for five to seven days. They will stay longer if they are fresher when you store them. For example, newly-picked kales from the farm will remain edible in the fridge for up to seven days. 

Bagged, unopened kales are good for seven to ten days when stored in the fridge. But once you’ve opened the package, the shelf life will be five days. 

Storing cooked kales in the refrigerator is a common method. Remember to keep them in an airtight bag, and they will last three to five days. 

In the freezer

Freezing is the best storage method because your food can last the longest there. So if you have some kales and want to use them later, blanch and freeze them. 

If you don’t blanch your veggies before putting them in the freezer, they can last two to three months. After that time, they will be safe to consume, but the texture and flavor will decrease. 

So, blanch the leaves and stems first. Here is how to do it:

  • Choose crisp leaves with good color. 
  • Cut the woody stems. 
  • Rinse the leaves under cold water. 
  • Boil the veggies for about two minutes. 
  • Drain the leaves, plunge them into ice, and wait for them to cool in two minutes. 
  • Drain your kale again to squeeze all the water. 

After blanching, put your vegetables in the freezing or ziplock bags and place them in the freezer. 

Can You Still Eat Kale If It Turns Yellow?

You can still eat kale in three cases:

  • Only a small part of it turns yellow. 
  • There aren’t any black spots. 
  • The texture is not slimy. 

Even when your vegetable is edible, do not expect it to be as tasty as the original. It may taste bitter and affect your dish slightly. You can cut the yellow parts to avoid bitterness. 

Yellow kale isn’t safe to eat if you find black spots on the leaves. And if you notice a disgusting taste, throw it away immediately. 


You can check the kale’s appearance, smell, flavor, and mold to tell if it’s edible or not. To extend its lifespan, store it in the fridge or freezer. 

No matter which storage method you choose, check the leaves carefully before eating to avoid food poisoning. 

Hopefully, you will find this article helpful. If you have any questions, please comment in the section below. We will get back to you soon. 

For over eighty years the Wightman Family has been growing and selling fruits and vegetables at the farm.