Growing your own food is such rewarding work. Collard greens are some of the easiest greens to grow and have one of the biggest returns. Start with sowing seeds and be amazed at the tenderness and beauty.
Collard Greens for Cooler Temps
Collard greens are a cool-weather crop that grows easily in Georgia. The seeds I plant are perfectly named Georgia Collards. I plant my seeds in wide rows once the weather begins to feel cooler. In other words, wait until the 90 degree summer days have dwindled down. For me, this happens in early October.
You Need More Than You Think
The wonderful thing about collards is they begin flourishing within a few weeks. They create a beautiful patch of green in your garden that might be looking a little worn from summer. By late November I can actually pick a few greens. However, I like to wait until I can pick a fairly large market basket full so I usually wait and pick in December. If you have cooked collards, you know how they cook down so picking more is always smart.
Collard Greens…Perfect for New Year’s Day
New Year’s Day is the day we look forward to eating our collard greens. As I have always been told, eat collards for wealth so it is worth doing. Besides, they are delicious paired with peas, sweet potatoes, and cornbread.
After Picking Your Collards
Right after picking collard greens, I begin washing them to prepare them for cooking. I put about a tablespoon of salt and a few tablespoons of white vinegar in some warm water in my sink-just enough to cover the bottom of the sink. Once the salt dissolves, add cold water and all of the collards. I rinse them and then repeat the process letting them soak for a few hours. I use this time to pick through the greens and pull off any long stems that may be tough. Since they soak for a while, I find myself walking by, stopping at the sink, swishing the water, and always finding one more stem.
A Perfect Side Dish
After washing your greens, it is time to cook them. I start with a fairly large pot even though I know they are going to cook down. This is a perfect time to try using dry vermouth if you do not have an open bottle of dry white wine. Also, just a warning if you have not cooked collards before…your house will smell very “green”. My dear friends always cook their collard greens outside under their carport. You will quickly understand why I like to open a window!
- 1 Large Stock Pot
- 3 quarts Water Enough to cover your greens once they wilt
- 2-3 teaspoons Sea Salt
- 1 Ham Hock
- 6 pounds Collard Greens Trimmed and rinsed, I pull off any extra-thick stems- this is an approx. amount of greens
- 1/2 cup Sugar Optional (helps cut bitterness, if needed)
- 2-3 tbsp Hot Suace I use Frank's Hot Sauce and I use a lot!, Optional
- 1/2 cup Dry White Wine or Dry Vermouth
- Wash your fresh greens in salted water with a splash of white vinegar I like to do this several times in order to remove dirt, sand, and tiny bugs that may have come in with your greens. Let the greens soak in this water for about 30 minutes if you have the time as it will help with the smell and begin softening them.
- Combine the first three ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
- Add greens a few at a time to the stockpot, add sugar hot sauce and wine. Cover and cook over medium heat until your greens are tender. About 45 minutes (feel free to simmer longer until they reach desired tenderness).
- Strain some of the juice to serve.
A Refreshing Change of Pace
We think that gardening is complete when the weather is cold but then we are blessed with wonderfully nutritious harvests. Gardening in the winter is refreshing, peaceful, and a nice change of pace from summer. I am looking forward to trying some other winter crops next year. I think I might begin planning next week! Join me and let me know what you discover.