The plant is commercially cultivated for its thick, slightly bitter, edible leaves. They are available year-round but are tastier and more nutritious in the cold months, after the first frost. For best texture, the leaves are picked before they reach their maximum size, at which stage they are thicker and are cooked differently from the new leaves.
In the Appalachian region of the Southern United States, cabbage collards, characterized by yellow-green leaves and a partially heading structure, are more popular than the dark-green non-heading types in the coastal South.
Collard greens are a staple vegetable in Southern U.S. cuisine. They pair well with similar green leaf vegetables, such as spinach, kale, turnip greens, and mustard greens in the dish called “mixed greens.”
Typically used in combination with collard greens are smoked. Salted meats (ham hocks, smoked turkey drumsticks, smoked turkey necks, pork neck bones, fatback or other fatty meat), diced onions, vinegar, salt, black pepper, white pepper, or crushed red pepper, and some cooks add a small amount of sugar.
Collard greens may also be thinly sliced and fermented to make collard sauerkraut, often cooked with flat dumplings.
Note: Produce at harvests will vary based on season; please sign up for our newsletter to learn what’s growing each month.
Black Eyed Peas and Collard Greens