03 August 2011

It's not easy cooking greens

This a blog post just for my records and archives. Blogs are good for that purpose — you can look back over the years, day by day, and compare the weather, the vegetable garden, the state of the hedge and yard, and the fruit harvest to the current situation.

For example, we thought our sweet corn plants had been stunted by the dry weather earlier this summer. But Walt looked back at a late July 2010 post and saw that this year's plants are at least as tall, if not taller, than last year's plants were on about the same date.

Washing the greens in a big plastic tub

So I finished harvesting and cooking my collard greens yesterday. It's actually a lot of trouble, but I think I'll come to believe it was worth it when I find nice packages of greens in the freezer over the course of the winter.

Cooking the greens in white wine with duck fat and hot red pepper
flakes gives good flavor to the leaves and to the cooking liquid.

Recent rains had caused powdery mildew to start growing on the collard leaves. That meant I lost quite a bit of the crop, and the leaves I did harvest I had to wash very carefully in several changes of water. It all amounted to two full days of work. Walt helped me strip the leafy parts off the tough central ribs of the bigger leaves.

Collards cooked and packed in a terrine
to cool overnight in the refrigerator

Once I got the collard greens washed and trimmed, I cooked them for two to three hours, tasting them every 30 minutes or so to see if they were getting tender. I just occurred to me that I might have done well to cook them in the pressure cooker — it would have taken less time.

Greens served at the table...

This morning, I just finished packing the greens into zip-top plastic bags for the freezer. I ended up with about nine quarts. Each bag weighs about 400 grams, so that means the total harvest came in at 3.6 kilograms, cooked. That's eight pounds, avoirdupois. That's a funny English word, isn't it? It's obviously a French term, but for some reason we leave the D off poids (which means "weight").

...made yesterday's lunch.

Collard greens are good with pork or poultry (duck springs to mind) and with steamed potatoes. I'm having second thoughts about doing a second planting for a fall crop. I think I'll just wait for spring to roll around again before I plant more. We'll be busy enough this fall harvesting the rest of the garden.


  1. I could never develop a taste for greens, but I love spinach. Does that count?

  2. Are collards the same as bettes/blettes?

  3. You posted once before about adding white wine to greens as you cook them. I tried it and loved how just a touch of white wine mellowed out the greens' bitterness.

  4. Hi Meredith, collards are the ancestor of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. So it's a kind of cabbage.

    Starman, I love spinach too. Collards have to be cooked right to be good, but isn't that true about everything?

    Carolyn, :^>

  5. We cook green a lot here at tropical island...The greens give a lot energy supply for our body

  6. Meridith, Your question got me wondering and I went to wikipedia: Collards are from the cabbage family (Brassica olerace)whereas the bettes are from the spinach and beet family (Chenopodiaceae). I'm guessing that is why "bettes" and "betterave" are so close. The leaves cook very quickly, like spinach leaves and the stalks take lots longer.

  7. Ah, Ken, I am always so impressed with your culinary posts. For me, it isn't easy boiling water. I wouldn't even consider attempting to cook greens. Sure looks good!

  8. They look really good. The best part is that you will get to enjoy them all winter from the freezer. That's a real treat.

  9. Thanks for this post, Ken :) I'm sure you must have posted before about how you make them, but I had forgotten about the duck fat part. That must add some nice flavor, eh?

    Looks like you'll have plenty to enjoy until next summer!


  10. Does Walt know that he'll be doing the rest of the harvesting?

  11. I shred the greens, kale or collards, including the stems, with a knife. Then I saute some thinly sliced onion and garlic in olive oil till soft. Sometimes I add cumin to the oil. Finally I add some salt and the greens, maybe a very small amount of water, cover, and let simmer till soft. I started eating dark bitter greens for health reasons, but have come to really like them this way.

  12. Ooooooops! I just re-read the blog. In the first read I thought you said "Walt'll be busy enough this fall harvesting the rest of the garden."

    Duhhhhh! New glasses coming next week.

    ps VW is "havicin" as in "Come Fall we'll be right busy havicin the gadin"


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