Pressure Canning Kale and Leafy Greens

Basket of kale
Canning kale begins by washing and blanching the kale for 3-5 minutes. Hot pack the kale into pint jars or quart jars, leaving 1-inch headspace. Process pints for 70 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes in a pressure canner, adjusting pressure per altitude.

What is the Best Method for Canning Kale?

As with most leafy greens, kale should be pressure canned because it is a low-acid food. The heat of a water bath canner and the water bath canning process does not reach the high temperature required to kill botulism spores in low-acid foods.

Jar of canned greens on cutting board
Canning greens

Pressure Canning Kale Step-by-Step

The following pressure canning method is approved by the National Center for Home Food Preservation for canning kale and other leafy greens, such as spinach, chard, collard greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens.

  1. Wash all canning equipment with soap and hot water. Sanitize the canning jars by placing them in boiling water for 10 minutes, keeping them hot until they are filled.
  2. Select fresh kale that is firm, vibrant in color, with no wilted or damaged leaves.
  3. Wash kale thoroughly and rinse repeatedly until all the dirt is removed. 
  4. Trim off the tough stems from each leaf and discard them.
  5. Fill a large pot with water and heat it over medium heat. Blanch the kale in the hot water for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the blanched leaves from the hot water with a slotted spoon and put them in a colander placed in a sink under cold water to stop the cooking process.
  7. Bring a second large pot of water to a boil.
  8. Pack kale leaves into sanitized canning jars, allowing 1-inch headspace.
  9. Add ½ teaspoon of canning salt to pint jars or one teaspoon to quart jars.
  10. ‌Ladle the hot, boiling water into the canning jars, maintaining the 1-inch headspace. 
  11. Remove any air bubbles with an air bubble remover tool and wipe the rims with a damp paper towel.
  12. Apply the canning lids and screw bands, tightening until fingertip tight.
  13. Prepare the pressure canner per the manufacturer’s instructions, ensuring 2-3 inches of water and a canning rack is placed inside. Heat the water inside so it is steaming.
  14. Use canning tongs to transfer the filled jars of kale into the canner, placing them on the canning rack and ensuring the jars don’t touch each other or the sides of the canner.
  15. Adjust the heat on the stove and seal the lid of the canner. With the valve open or weight off, allow it to vent steam for 10 minutes.
  16. Close the vents or place the weight on the canner and allow the pressure to build to the correct pressure per your altitude:

Recommended processing times for kale in a dial-gauge pressure canner:

Altitude (ft) 0-2,0002,001-4,0004,001-6,0006,001-8,0008,001 +
Pints (70 mins)11 lbs12 lbs13 lbs14 lbs15 lbs
Quarts (90 mins)11 lbs12 lbs13 lbs14 lbs15 lbs

Recommended processing times for kale in a weighted-gauge pressure canner:

Altitude (ft)0 – 1,0001,001 +
Pints (70 mins)10 lbs15 lbs
Quarts (90 mins)10 lbs15 lbs
  1. Process pints for 70 minutes and quarts for 90 minutes.
  2. Turn the heat off and let the canner pressure depressurize and reach zero. Then, let your pressure canner stand for an additional 10 minutes undisturbed. 
  3. Remove the lid from the canner carefully, and let it stand for five more minutes. 
  4. Remove the jars using a jar lifter or a pair of tongs and set them on a cushioned countertop to cool for 12-24 hours.
  5. Remove the screw bands and check the seals on the jars. Sealed jars have lids that do not flex up and down when pressed.
  6. Label and store all sealed jars in a cool, dry, dark place. Reprocess jars that didn’t seal immediately or refrigerate and use the contents within 2-3 days.
Trimming kale on a cutting board with a knife
Trimming kale for canning

How Much Kale Do You Need for a Full Canner Load?

An average of 28 pounds of kale is required to fill a canner load of 7-quart jars, while 18 pounds are required for a canner load of 9 pints. 

Benefits of Canning Kale and Leafy Greens

Just like fresh kale, home-canned kale is good for you. Enjoy the following benefits when you can kale at home:

  • Canned kale can save you valuable prep time in the kitchen
  • Canned kale is versatile and can be added to soups, stews, and smoothies
  • Canning leafy greens reduces food waste
  • It is rich in vitamins and minerals
  • It’s great as a low-calorie side dish or to add fiber to meals
Bowl of fresh kale surrounded by kale leaves
Bowl of fresh kale

How Long Does it Take to Can Kale?

The canning process takes 2-3 hours, including prep time, with a processing time of 70 to 90 minutes in a pressure canner. 

Can You Can Cooked Kale?

Kale should be blanched but not cooked before canning it to avoid a mushy texture. Pressure canning will cook kale thoroughly inside the canner.

Can You Pickle Kale Before Canning It?

Kale cannot be canned in a boiling water bath canner unless it is pickled first. Pickling kale raises the acidity inside the jar to prevent harmful bacteria from growing.

  1. Rinse fresh kale in cool, running water. Cut the kale into 3-inch pieces.
  2. Seed and core a whole red pepper and slice it into 3-inch strips. 
  3. Stand the kale pieces and red pepper pieces in half-pint jars, leaving ¾-inch headspace at the top of the jars. 
  4. Add a clove of garlic, a fresh dill sprig, and a few pieces of sliced raw onion to every jar. 
  5. Add ¼ teaspoon of red pepper flakes to each jar if you desire. 
  6. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat 6 cups of 5% white vinegar with 3 cups of purified water. Add six tablespoons of canning salt and 3/4 cup sugar. Add any extra spices you desire.
  7. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  8. Pour the pickling brine over the kale and red peppers.
  9. If using half-pint jars, allow ½-inch headspace. Add canning lids and screw bands, tightening until fingertip tight.
  10. If canning the pickled kale, process jars for 15 minutes in a prepared boiling water bath canner, ensuring the jars are fully submerged with 1-2 inches of water over the top of the jars. Once the jars are processed, remove them and let them cool at room temperature on a cushioned surface for 12-24 hours.
  11. If you wish to make refrigerator pickles, there is no need to can the jars, but they must be refrigerated at all times and used within two weeks.
  12. Store canned, pickled kale in a cool, dry place and use it within six months for the best flavor.
Pickling ingredients for kale including garlic, dill, red peppers, sea salt, and black peppercorns.
Pickling ingredients

How to Store Canned Kale

Proper storage is essential to extend the shelf life of canned kale and other veggies. Canned kale should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place away from direct sunlight. Store jars at least six inches off of the floor to avoid temperature fluctuations.

What is the Shelf Life of Canned Kale?

According to the USDA, canned kale has a shelf life of one year if properly stored in a cool, dry place.


Patrick has a farming background and is a full-time food writer and recipe creator. His goal is to help you discover how fantastic canning is by sharing his knowledge. Outside of the kitchen, Patrick enjoys outdoor activities and exploring nature in all its beauty.

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