Collard I.D: Tips and Tricks

A cultural powerhouse, collard greens are an integral part of southern cooking. Whether it’s in soul food, creole cuisine, or just plain old comfort food, America loves their collards. The hearty, sometimes bitter vegetable has bigger aspirations though, as many chefs have taken to using collards instead of kale due to their similarity. Regardless of your cuisine preferences, try using these tips and tricks to spice up your collard game.

  • Picking fresh collard greens is fairly simple. Seek out ones with evenly colored green leaves that don’t show any signs of wilting or damage.
  • Once your collards make it into your kitchen, avoid washing them until immediately before use. Premature exposure to water can cause your collards to quickly diminish in quality.
  • If you refrigerate you collards in an airtight plastic bag, they should last about 5 days before spoiling.
  • To quickly wash your collard greens, try swishing them around in a bowl full of cold water until all of the excess dirt comes off. If your greens are particularly gritty, you may need to change the water a few times. Afterwards, spin dry and remove any unwanted, tough sections.
  • Collards are an undeniable star of southern cooking, but they can be used in a variety of other cuisines. To start, try adding your collards to a stir fry or sautéing them and incorporating them into a pasta dish.
  • Generally, collards benefit from a slow-cooking process, but it can be hard to gauge exactly how long you should cook them for. If you’re boiling them, it’s generally best to start cooking them an hour or so before service. However, if you’re in a rush, you can sauté them beforehand to speed up the process.
    • Pro Tip: Not sure if your collards are fully cooked? Poke them with a fork! If they’re extremely tender, they’re done.
  • Assuming that you’re not cooking for the health-conscious crowd, mellowing agents like bacon fat or heavy cream pair well with collards.