Collard Greens


Collard greens are a mild-flavored leafy vegetable and a staple of Southern cooking; Scientifically speaking, they are in the cabbage family though in taste are very similar to kale. They are high in vitamins A, K and C and a good source of calcium, folate, and fiber.

Collard greens' history in the US is closely linked with the growth of slavery. Though collard greens are not native to Africa, the African slaves adapted their traditional style of cooking to them. Slaves were forced to prepare meals for their families using leftovers from the plantation kitchens, which evolved to Southern cooking as we now know it. As slaves moved into the plantation kitchens and began cooking, they introduced these recipes and they gradually became part of mainstream Southern cuisine.

Collard greens play an important role in two celebrations: collard greens cooked with ham and black-eyed peas are a traditional Southern New Year's dish. Many people also serve collard greens on Juneteenth (June 19th), the day commemorating the emancipation of the slaves, to celebrate their African heritage.

Collard greens are traditionally sauteed with bacon or boiled with a hamhock, though they are equally delicious cooked without meat or served raw in salads.


Other names: Borekale
Translations: Collard Πράσινοι, Collardo Žalieji, الكرنب الخضر, Collard zelených, Collard Vihreät, Collard Verzilor, Collard 녹색당, Collard zelených, כרוב הירוקים, Зелень, 羽衣甘蓝, Collard gulay, Collard साग, Acelga, Зелень, カラードグリーン, Grönkål, Raątika, Раатика, Bleda, Колар Зелените

Physical Description

Collards are large, substantial medium green leaves. They are thicker than spinach or chard. They're a soft triangle shape with veining.

Colors: pink

Tasting Notes

Flavors: bitter, salty
Mouthfeel: Tender when cooked
Food complements: Bacon, Apple cider vinegar
Wine complements: White wines
Beverage complements: Water, Ginger ale, Beer
Substitutes: Cabbage, Kale, Chard, Spinach, Green chard leaves, Mustard greens, Turnip greens, Callaloos

Selecting and Buying

Choosing: Choose collard greens with smooth leaves, sturdy stems and a healthy green color.
Buying: You can find collard greens at most local grocery stores or supermarkets. They also are highly available at roadside stands or farmer's markets.
Procuring: Prepare a seed bed with deep room, since collards will grow up to a couple feet deep. Water the planted collard green seeds by sprinkling water on them. The seeds should germinate within two weeks. Continue watering and de-weeding the plants each day, and harvest the collards by cutting the outer leaves of the plant when they are about one foot tall. Leave the inner layers to continue growing.

Preparation and Use

There are several ways to prepare collard greens. After cleaning and cutting the collard greens into small pieces, boil them with salt, garlic, pepper, ham hock, fat back or other salty foods for flavor. You can also cook them in a slow cooker.

Cleaning: Wash thoroughly in a sink, careful not to damage the leaves. Wash them for five minutes or less.

Conserving and Storing

Place unwashed collard greens in a paper towel and then store in a plastic bag. Place in a refrigerator and use within a week or two, depending on freshness of the collards.



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