Curly kale – the Christmas superfood from Halland

Lisa Lemke Invest in Halland

It’s no secret that the people in Halland love curly kale. After all, it is our national dish. Ask any local what is a must on the Christmas table, and you will certainly get the answer ”curly kale”. Nowadays, we eat curly kale all year round, but where does this interest come from originally?


  • We have been eating curly kale in Sweden for many years. There was curly kale in Sweden in the 14:th century and probably even earlier than that.
  • It is said that Hallands great curly kale tradition comes from Germany. In the 19:th century many poor Hallandians went to northern Germany to find work. In Germany there was great interest in curly kale and when the Hallandians returned home, they brought back the interest and created new eating habits.
  • Curly kale has long been associated with a dish called långkål (long kale) that belongs on the Halland Christmas table. Everyone has their own special touch for how the långkål should be cooked.
  • Today, you can find curly kale in all sorts of dishes and snacks. In everything from smoothies and salads to chips and crisp bread.
  • Curly kale is often referred to as a ”super vegetable” or ”super food”. In recent years, kale has become increasingly popular, with many of its health benefits often being highlighted.
  • Curly kale is available everywhere in Halland. During harvest times you can find kale at many food markets and in farm shops.


Recipe: Swedish långkål


600 g (1¼ lb)           kale leaves

1 tsp                             salt

1 litre (4 cups)           cooking liquid from ham, ham stock or water

50 g (¼ cup)             butter

180 ml (¾ cup)        whipped cream

salt and freshly ground white pepper

¼ tsp                          ground mace, optional

1 tbsp                          caster (superfine) sugar, optional

How to do it:

  1. Rinse and scrape the leaves from the coarse stems.
  2. Add the leaves to a large saucepan of boiling salted water and allow it to simmer for 2 minutes. (You may need to do this in two batches unless you have a very large saucepan.)
  3. Drain well in a large colander, pressing down well with a spoon to squeeze the water out of the kale leaves.
  4. Return the kale to a saucepan and pour the cooking liquid from the ham (or stock from ham/chicken/vegetables) over the kale so it is just covered. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring regularly.
  5. Drain the kale again, squeezing out as much of the stock as possible. (If preparing in advance, when the kale is cold transfer it to a dish, cover with clingfilm (food wrap) and store in a fridge.)
  6. Roughly chop the kale.
  7. Melt the butter in a pan, add the kale and lightly fry for a couple of minutes.
  8. Add the cream and simmer gently for 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  9. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Add ground mace and sugar if desired.
  10. Simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  11. Eat the långkål while piping hot.



  • Steps 1 to 5 can be done up to 3 days in advance.
  • Ideally långkål should be made using the cooking liquid from the ham, but it can be made using just water or ham stock made using a bouillon cube.
  • Don’t be tempted to replace the cream with milk and flour as it really doesn’t taste as good, even if it might be a shade healthier.