Lippische Palme Kale

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Lippischer Braunkohl, Ziegenkohl

Lippische Palme is a long-stemmed kale variety from the region of Westphalia-Lippe. It is also known as Braunkohl or Ziegenkohl (the latter means “goat cabbage”). It grows to a height of about 1.6 meters and has a violet stem and curly, violet-green-violet leaves. This variety was importance in the region as both a vegetable and fodder plant, and the roots were used as fuel for heating. The lower leaves and stalks were fed to livestock, especially goats, while the more delicate leaf rosette was used for human consumption. The leaves are sweeter and have a milder taste than those of classic short-stemmed kale varieties. Due to its mild taste, Lippische Palme is prepared in a particular manner: While the tough rib is often removed from the leaves of other varieties, the fine ribs and even some of the stem of Lippische Palme are used is cooking. This gives the dishes made with this variety a kohlrabi-like flavor.

In Lippe in the 19th century, many men worked as migrant brick layers. The women stayed behind with their children and supplied themselves with from their gardens and livestock. When the men who worked as seasonal workers came home in the winter, an animal was slaughtered for the feast and kale was served with it. The culture of eating kale in the winter months was widespread in the Lippe region and is still part of the region’s identity today. Traditional kale dishes are still available and restaurants regularly serve kale during the winter months. The cultivation of kale is still of great importance for the region (there are large areas dedicated to its cultivation and a producer of canned kale is based in the region), but tall varieties like Lippische Palme are not used in industrial farming: Modern harvesting machines cannot harvest them because they don’t grow in a uniform way, and the yield is also lower. The use of kale as fodder for animals has virtually disappeared.

From a breeding point of view, Lippische Palme kale has never been altered, but has been preserved in different lines as relatively heterogenous farm varieties. Once a common vegetable throughout the Lippe region, Lippische Palme is now only grown by a few enthusiasts in their private gardens.

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