Collard Greens, A Southern Tradition

Collard Greens, A New Year’s Day Southern Tradition… served along with our traditional black eyed pea’s or Hoppin’ John, and corn bread… It’s on the menu tomorrow. As southern tradition and superstition dictates, New Year’s day meal of Black Eyed Peas signify good luck for the coming year. Collard greens insure financial success and the corn bread… It’s just plain good!

Wonderfully nutritious collard leaves are very low in calories (provide only 30 calories per 100 g) and contain no cholesterol. However, its green leaves contain a very good amount of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber that helps control LDL cholesterol levels and offer protection against hemorrhoids, constipation as well as colon cancer diseases.

Widely considered to be wholesome foods, collards are rich in invaluable sources of phyto-nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as di-indolyl-methane (DIM) and sulforaphane that have proven benefits against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers by virtue of their cancer-cell growth inhibition and cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.

  • 2 ounces of Salt Pork, sliced
  • 2 large Vidalia Onions, chopped
  • 8 small Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Large Mess of Collard Greens (I use an entire ripe plant)
  • 3 quarts Chicken broth or Vegetable Stock
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • ½ cup White Vinegar
  • 4 tsp. sugar

Collards are more tender after a frost…however, it’s difficult to wait that long to enjoy your summer garden harvest of fresh greens!  When cooking greens prior to a frost, the greens may be a bit tough. To tenderize, dip a large moistened cooking fork into a box of Baking Soda, using only the soda that adheres to the fork and stir into boiling pot of greens.  A foam will appear, and then dissipate, helping to tenderize the greens.

  1. Rinse greens, thoroughly, and pat dry.
  2. Stack leaves, roll a bunch and slice about 1” strips. Remove woody stems extending beyond the leaves.  Set Aside.
  3. Use a large Cast Iron Pot to brown the salt pork (may substitute ¼ lb. of bacon.
  4. Add chopped onions and sauté until tender.
  5. Add minced garlic and heat through until fragrant, about 1 minute
  6. Add collard greens, broth, pepper, salt, vinegar and sugar.  Bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 2 hours, until greens are tender.
  8.  Serve with Vinegar Pepper Sauce, and Corn Bread.

Vinegar Pepper Sauce

This vinegar type pepper sauce can be found in just about every pantry in the South, especially in the fall when fresh turnip greens and collards are readily available.  Rooster Spur or Bird’s Eye peppers are Southern favorites. Pepper sauce takes about 3 weeks until it reaches the best flavor.

Wash and drain 1 pint of fresh red, yellow and green garden peppers.  Dry, remove stems and pack into a clear glass jar.  Heat distilled white vinegar to cover peppers over medium heat until hot.  Pour over peppers and seal.  Store in a dark area, or kitchen cabinet.