Collard greens belong to the cabbage, or cole family, along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and kohlrabi. They have large, smooth, waxy green leaves. Although collards also grow in summer, their flavor is always better in cold weather; the leaves are surprisingly cold hardy, generally tolerating temperatures in the teens.
Collards made their journey to the American South from Africa. The southern method of cooking collard greens, in a pot of water until they are soft, comes from the foodways that resourceful African plantation workers developed under slavery. Stewed greens were an important source of nutrition and have since endured as a signature Southern staple. Many Southerners hold to the tradition of eating greens and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, said to bring prosperity and luck in the year to come.
Collard greens are nutrient dense and low in calories. They’re an excellent source of calcium, folate, and vitamins K, C, and A. Furthermore, they’re high in fiber and antioxidants.Collard greens may protect against cancer and improve bone, eye, digestive, and heart health.
Preparing and Eating
Collard greens have a mild flavor that is less bitter than that of kale. Like kale, they contain a tough stem and center rib that many people prefer to remove before eating. Collard greens are traditionally cooked in water with some kind of meat, usually pork (such as a ham hock, ham bone, or fatback) until the leaves are tender. A lighter version calls for smoked turkey. Some recipes add onions and various seasonings, and many folks sprinkle cooked collard greens with hot pepper sauce or vinegar.
Collards can also be enjoyed fresh in salads, slaws, smoothies, sandwiches, or wraps. Chop or shred them and add them to soups, stews, omelets, and casseroles to increase the nutrient density of your recipes. They can also be sautéed and enjoyed as a side dish.
Click for more: Selecting and Preparing Collard Greens
Traditional southern collard greens–click: Southern Collard Greens – A Classic Easy Recipe (southernbite.com)
Vegetarian collard greens–click: Quick Collard Greens Recipe – Cookie and Kate
Raw, Uncooked collard greens: Uncooked collard greens may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and should be unwashed and placed in an airtight container with wilted leaves removed.
Cooked collard greens: Cooked collard greens can be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. If storing them in the refrigerator, place them in a covered container for up to 3 days. They may also be stored in the freezer for up to 6 months when placed in a freezer-safe bag or container with as much air pressed out as possible.