Collard Greens Southern Style

fresh collard greens

by Kathy | Disclosure

If the idea of eating your greens doesn’t excite you very much this recipe is for you. Greens are none too popular at our house. The men here will gladly eat only a handful of vegetables so I’m generally always working on broadening the range of veggies we eat. I think this recipe really fits the bill.

My Mom didn’t make greens … she didn’t care for them personally and neither did my Dad or sibs. So I’m new to greens. Over the past few years I’ve tried out a few modern recipes where the greens are sauteed in olive oil but found them bitter and hard to digest.

Mrs Dull’s recipe for collard greens is pretty much like her recipe for all greens. You could sum it up as: Boil them for a long time with a little fat for flavor. From a health standpoint this method is now frowned upon as causing vitamin loss. So I thought I’d do a little looking into the traditional reasons for the long cooking time. Basically, it’s to make them easier to digest. Collard greens are part of the brassica family of vegetables and as such they contain some anti-nutrients that block absorption of iodine. Wikipedia states that 30 minutes of boiling will eliminate most of the anti-nutrients. The traditional 2 hours makes them much more digestible for me though, and I’d suspect for most everyone.

Mrs Dull’s recipe is on page 92 of “Southern Cooking”. She suggests eating collards in the winter as they are best when the cold has made them brittle and tender. I’ve modified the recipe here to replace some of the cooking water with broth for even greater nutrient density.

Collard Greens cooked the traditional southern way

  • A bunch of collard greens
  • 2 cups of broth, roughly
  • A few strips of bacon
washed collard greens

Washed and torn to smallish pieces

  • A good largish pot
  • Colander
  • Remove the stems from each leaf. This is most easily done by holding the stem in one hand then wrap the other hand loosely around the base and pull up. Your hand will slide along the stem removing the greenery. Put the greens in the colander.
  • Rinse the greens well and tear them into smallish bits.
  • Place in the pot with the broth and bacon. Fill the pot with enough water to just cover the greens.
  • Boil for about 2 hours taking care that they are always under water.
collard green lunch

Collards with carrots and ham for lunch

That’s the whole thing … pretty easy huh? Be sure to save the cooking water. It’s called pot liquor and it very nutritious. Just sop some up with last weeks biscuits and your good to go!

Links to articles on collard greens
  • New York Times article on Collard Greens – This article is fairly critical of the traditional method of cooking. It suggests that long boiling will result in a loss of vitamins.
  • Thomas Cowan of the Weston Price Foundation makes mention in this article on adjusting to traditional foods the wisdom of the traditional cooking time for collard greens. They are more fibrous and a long cooking time makes them easier to digest. The mention is at the bottom in the vegetables section.
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Alina February 20, 2012 at 7:29 am

Great info on collard greens.
Should the pot be covered or not or maybe it does not matter?
You say to boil the collards but wouldn’t it be better to simmer them?
Thank you.

Kathy February 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Hi Alina … Mrs Dull’s exact words were to “boil slowly” so I wondered what exactly does that mean? So I did a little search and found this that might help clarify. It sounds like a funny article but it actually has a helpful description of the difference between a “slow boil” and a “full rolling boil” with a pic. Sometime people refer to simmering as a “gentle boil”. I did mine on kinda a slow boil. I didn’t cover the pot.

jpatti May 23, 2012 at 9:45 am

This sounds quite yummy.

Natalie April 11, 2013 at 11:19 pm

Try adding a sprinkle of sugar in your Collards (and Turnip Greens) while cooking, about a teaspoon or so…you will find it makes them even better!

Kathy April 12, 2013 at 9:01 am

Maybe a tiny bit of honey instead?

Kenya G. Johnson April 23, 2013 at 3:20 pm

I love collard greens! I am southern raised by vegetarians from up north so mine are a bit different. These days my mom uses a vegetable bouillon cube for the seasoning. On our plate we put just a splash of apple cider vinegar on them. DELISH! TALU

Emily April 24, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Mmmm, bacon! Just a little bit makes anything yummy, doesn’t it? This sounds like one I’m going to have to try!

April @ The 21st Century Housewife April 25, 2013 at 4:44 am

I confess I’m not a huge fan of greens, but I’m not sure I’ve ever had them prepared this way. Your recipe does sound really flavourful and they are so good for you. I look forward to giving it a try.

Anne Kimball April 26, 2013 at 11:01 am

Hi Kathy. Thanks for the “science” behind it. I wondered….

Sorry I’m so late getting over to read your post. Thanks for linking this up with the TALU!

Sandi May 3, 2013 at 10:44 am

I live in the South we buy ham hocks or you can used sliced smoked cured ham, semi fry about 6 to 8 slices of bacon that has been chopped when about done add your water leaving bacon & grease in. add ham hock bring to a boil have your collards cleaned and torn into small pieces, add greens and if you choice add about a 1/2 teaspoon sugar/ or spenda. we cover our pot and cook until tender on a low boil. ck so often to see if they are super tender. this takes an hour or so serve with onion and corn bread yum yum !!

Kathy May 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Sounds good, but I’d skip the Splenda :-)

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