The collard, also known as collard greens, is a relative of the cabbage. However, it grows a loose rosette at the top of the long stem instead of a cabbage head. Its flavor also differs from that of cabbage.
Collards are rich in vitamins A and C, calcium, beta carotene, and iron.
Selection and Storage
Collard greens can be bought all year round, but its peak season is January through April. Always choose collards with firm green leaves. Watch out for signs of yellowing, wilting, or insect damage.
Collard can be stored in the crisper bin of your refrigerator for 3 to 5 days. Seal it unwashed in a plastic bag, or wrap it in a wet towel. Do not store it longer than 6 days as it will become very bitter.
Cooking Collard Greens
Cook your collard greens because they have higher nutritional content than raw collards. Cooking dissolves the tough cell walls that prevent the release of the nutrients in collards. Collard greens can be cooked in several dishes. It is highly similar to cabbage or spinach. Here are the steps to prepare and cook collard greens:
Step 1. Rinse the collard greens thoroughly to remove all grit and traces of dirt.
Step 2. Cut off and discard the stems if they are very thick. If not, cook them with the leaves. Then, slice the leaves into thin strips. The fastest way of doing this is by stacking many leaves on top of each other. Roll them together, and chop the leaves into thin strips with a large knife and a cutting board.
Step 3. Put the collard in a cooking pot and add seasonings. You can use olive oil, black pepper, onions, garlic powder, pear or balsamic vinegar, leftover precooked lean pork, chicken broth, lemon juice, or whatever suits your taste and the occasion.
Step 4. Cover the greens with water, but don’t add too much, because the collards will cook down fast. Bring to a boil.
Step 5. Lower heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. The collards will be done by then.
Cooking Collards With Ham Hocks
A popular way of cooking collard greens is with ham hocks. Try this simple recipe:
- 1 big bunch of collard greens
- 2 big ham hocks
- 1 onion
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup water
Follow Steps 1 and 2 above.
Step 3. Sautee the ham hocks in cooking oil and onion for about five minutes. Use a pot big enough for all your ingredients. Bring the water to a boil and let it boil for about 1 1/2 hours, adding more water once in a while to avoid it drying up. The ham hocks should be thoroughly cooked before you add the collard greens.
Step 4. Make a mixture of salt, black pepper, and water and add it to the pot. Place the collard greens in the pot. Make sure to stir well with each addition. When the first collards have wilted, add more until the pot is full.
Step 5. Cover and cook for thirty minutes on medium heat. Continue stirring every few minutes so that the flavor of the ham hocks is distributed evenly. Taste to suit your palate.
Step 6. Remove from heat and serve with your favorite meat dish. If there are extra servings left, just keep them in your refrigerator. The taste gets even better as the juices settle in.