13 January 2014

Fine weather for kale and collards

We have decided that our kale crop has outstripped our expectations. And the collard greens, too, have exceeded expectations. The weather has been perfect. We had a short cold snap in the first half of December. Frost and light freezes sweeten the greens. And for about a month now, we've had above-freezing temperatures in the morning and afternoon highs in the high 40s and high 50s (8 to 14ºC). Greens love to grow in that kind of weather.

Kale cooking...

I went out and harvested a big basketful of kale just a few days ago. We took the youngest, prettiest leaves, washed them thoroughly, and then coarsely chopped them with a big knife. We sauteed them in a chef's pan, uncovered, with two crushed and chopped cloves of garlic, a little olive oil, some salt and pepper, a splash of white wine, and a pinch of hot red pepper flakes. The cooking took about 10 minutes, and the result did not disappoint.

I cooked the rest of the kale leaves — the tougher ones — the way I've always cooked collard greens, according to family tradition. But I didn't really season them much this time. Salt, pepper, oil, and again a splash of white wine with some water. I let the greens "stew" in the little bit of liquid for 20 to 30 minutes. The leaves still had a slightly crunchy texture when I took them out of the pan, let them cool, and packed them in a quart container for the freezer. We'll likely cook them some more when it comes time to eat them, and season them with duck fat, bacon fat, or chicken broth. We'll see.

...and kale cooked

You can be sure we'll be growing more kale and collards in our French jardin potager next year and for the foreseeable future. On the markets here, and in the supermarkets, we can get Brussels sprouts, several kinds of cabbage (green, savoy, red), endives, and plenty of other leafy green vegetables. But the kale and collard greens we have to grow if we want them, and we do. Unless the weather turns a lot colder over the next month or two, we'll get another good-sized harvest of collard greens before spring arrives, and more kale.


  1. I cooked collard greens again yesterday in olive oil, leeks, shallots, garlic and vegetable broth. Didn't think about white wine. I am careful with kale as I have problems with my thyroid. Cooked is Ok but never raw anymore.

  2. You've inspired me. If you're looking for me, I'll be out in the garden harvesting kale.

  3. A friend's mom in Morehead City always cooked her collards with small corn meal dumplings. My mother's mom (south Georgia) always put some sugar and ham in when she cooked turnip greens. I have not had either one in a while. Glenn tells me that in Canada they only eat the roots of turnips and feed the greens to the pigs! What a waste!

  4. Nadège, thanks for the info about kale and hypothyroidism. I wasn't aware of that danger. It seems that all cruciferous vegetables, consumed raw, can have negative effects on thyroid function. So cook them well, I say — and do.

    Hi Chris, did you see yourself and T. in one of my blog photos last week?

    Margaret, my mother often made cornmeal dumplings with greens, and I made some a few weeks ago too. Walt and I both like them (I call them quenelles de farine de maïs in French). My grandmother on Evans Street used to favor turnip greens, buy my mother always cooked collards. A lot of people don't know that turnip and beet greens are good foods. I have to grow turnips this spring.


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