Collard greens

Collard greens

Collards, also called borekale (from the Dutch boerenkool (farmers' kale), are various loose-leafed cultivars of Brassica oleracea (Acephala Group), the same species that produces cabbage and broccoli. The plant is grown for its large, dark-colored, edible leaves and as a garden ornamental, mainly in Brazil, Portugal, the Southern United States, many parts of Africa, Montenegro, Spain and in Kashmir . They are classified in the same cultivar group as kale and spring greens, to which they are extremely similar genetically.

The plant is also called couve in Brazil, couve-galega in Portugal, (col) berza in Spanish-speaking countries and Raštan in Montenegro. In Kashmiri it is called haak. The name collard is said to derive from Anglo-Saxon coleworts or colewyrts ("cabbage plants").

The plant

The Cultivar Group name Acephala ("without a head" in Greek) refers to the fact that this variety of B. oleracea does not have the usual close-knit core of leaves ("head") like cabbage. The plant is a biennial where winter frost occurs, perennial in even colder regions. It has an upright stalk, often growing up to 2 feet tall. The plant is very similar to kale. Popular cultivars of collard greens include Georgia Southern, Morris Heading, Butter Collard (or couve-manteiga), and couve tronchuda.

Collards in cooking

Collards have higher nutritional value when cooked than when raw due to the tough cell structure ; they can be blended into a juice, usually in combination with sweet fruit juices to improve the flavor. Collards are usually consumed cooked, as meal fillers and as a source of dietary fiber, especially as a balance to fish and meat dishes.

Nutrition facts

Widely considered to be healthful foods, collards are good sources of vitamin C and soluble fiber and contain multiple nutrients with potent anti-cancer properties, such as diindolylmethane and sulforaphane.

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have recently discovered that 3,3'-Diindolylmethane in Brassica vegetables such as collard greens is a potent modulator of the innate immune response system with potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-cancer activity.

Collard greens in American food

Collard greens are a staple vegetable of southern U.S. cuisine and soul food. They are often prepared with other similar green leaf vegetables, such as kale, turnip greens, spinach, and mustard greens in "mixed greens". They are generally eaten year-round in the South. Typical seasonings when cooking collards can consist of smoked and salted meats (ham hocks, pork neckbones, fatback or other fatty meat), diced onions, vinegar, salt, and pepper (black, white, or crushed red). Traditionally, collards are eaten on New Year's Day (along with black-eyed peas or field peas and corn bread) to ensure wealth in the coming year, as the leaves resemble folding money. Cornbread is a common accompaniment to collards and is used to soak up the "potlikker," a nutrient-rich collard broth. Roughly a quarter pound (aprox 100 g) of cooked collards contains 46 calories. Collard greens may also be thinly sliced and fermented to make collard kraut, which is often cooked with flat dumplings.

Collard greens in Brazil and Portugal

In Brazil and Portugal, collard (or couve) greens are common accompaniments of fish and meat dishes. In Portuguese and Brazilian cuisine, they are a standard side dish for feijoada (a popular pork and beans-style stew). The leaves are sliced into strips, 1 to 3 mm wide (sometimes by the grocer or market vendor, with a special hand-cranked slicer) and sautéed with oil or butter, flavored with garlic, onion, and salt. Sometimes, it's also eaten fresh.

Thinly sliced collard greens are also the main ingredient of a popular soup, caldo verde ("green broth").

The juice pressed from fresh leaves and leaf stalks, taken regularly, is popularly believed to be a remedy for gout, bronchitis, and blood circulation problems.

Collard greens in Kashmir

In early spring when the dormant bud sprout and give out tender leaves, the leaves in the bud are pinched out and consumed as ‘Kaanul haak’. Similarly, the tender seedlings of just 35-40 days' age pulled out along with roots from thickly sown beds are also consumed as 'Kaanul haak'. The roots of this 'Haak' is called as 'Maunje' and the whole thing is called as 'Maunje Haak'. Both 'Haak' and 'Maunje' are cooked together. Also, we can cook them seprately. When the extending stem bears alternate leaves in quick succession during on-season, the older leaves are harvested periodically, bundled (8-12 leaves each depending upon the size) and marketed as 'Boudi haak'. Ahe apical portion of stem along with the whorled leaves is removed leading up to the autumn season and is called as 'Kacchi haak'.

In Kashmir, a light dish of whole collard leaves is cooked using water, salt and oil Plenty of water is added to provide broth - haak rus. The dish is eaten with rice. Collard greens (Manuje part) are also cooked along with meat, fish, cheese and eggs.

Cultivation and storage

The plant is commercially cultivated for its thick, slightly bitter edible leaves. They are available year-round, but many people believe that they are tastier and more nutritious in the cold months, after the first frost. For best flavor and texture, the leaves should be picked before they reach their maximum size. Flavor and texture also depend on the cultivar; the couve-manteiga and couve tronchuda are especially appreciated in Brazil and Portugal.

Fresh collard leaves can be stored for up to 10 days if refrigerated to just above freezing (1 °C) at high humidity (>95%). In domestic refrigerators, fresh collard can be stored for about three days. Once cooked, it can be frozen and stored for greater lengths of time.


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