Collard greens are a vegetable similar to kale. They are a headless forming cabbage. When they are harvested young, small, and tender they are known as baby collards. There are records of using this vegetable as a regular part of a diet in Asia Minor some 3000 years ago.
The name comes from the word for wild cabbage plant. Leaves are the edible part of the plant but in some parts of the world, such as South America, the plant is grown primarily as a garden ornamental. In the US however, it’s considered an essential part of a diverse healthy diet.
Baby Collard Trivia
- It’s the official vegetable of South Carolina
- The Romans and Celts brought them to Britain and France, but they’ve been used far before that.
- Substance extracted from collard greens is used for its antibacterial qualities.
Baby Collard Buying Guide
The leaves of a baby collard should be dark green. They should have a slick almost waxy finish which is a natural way the plant protects itself from insects. The plant should be firm and crisp. This shows that it has matured enough but that it’s fresh in the moment in which you’re buying them.
Thar’s best tested by trying to flip the leaves and seeing if they are floppy as they should be. If some of the leaves are turning yellow, that’s no reason to give up on the purchase, altogether. Those could be taken off.
Baby Collard Production & Farming in Texas
Baby Collard is a popular plant in Texas and it’s what’s consider a cooler season plant. The varieties grown in Texas include: Blue Max, Champion, Flash, Georgia LS, Georgia Southern, Top Bunch, and Vates. When they are grown in spring, they are transplanted from a greenhouse, otherwise collards could be planted in the ground directly.
When the plants are sprouted you should let them grow until they are 4 to 6 inches tall or until the row they are in becomes too crowded. The young plants can then be used as greens or transplanted to a different more spacious row.
There are two ways to harvest baby collard greens. For smaller ones you could cut the entire plant about 4 inches of the ground and just be done with it. That’s the simpler way and it may also require you to cut the leaves that grow from the side. Larger one need to be taken with the root but that’s not something to worry about with baby collards.
In South Texas and in the coastal regions of the US, you’ll be able to harvest baby collards throughout the year since they will grow in winter as well, as long as they are mild.
In order to fight insects as its most dangerous pest, collard greens are sprayed with organophosphate insecticides. There has been concern about the use of these pesticides so you want to enquire are they used and at what rates, with your grosser.
Collards are raised as a source of winter greens in the southern United States. That’s because the climate is mild enough to provide for more than one harvest and to cater the local restaurants and homes with enough of these vegetables for the whole season.
At the same time, in Southern America, mostly in Brazil and Peru, they are grown in household gardens as a decorative plant which they can be if they are allowed to grow and to achieve their green and lush look. It’s a biennial plant, but it’s grown as an annual one due to its size.
The best way to pack this vegetable for a longer period of time is to put them in jars and pressured cans. Many households have started to do it on their own and thus prepare for the season, but they could also be found in local farmer’s markets.
You’ll need to invest a bit in a pressure canner and in the jars themselves if you plan to do it yourself, but based on the quantities you store, that could actually be a savings method in the long run.
Enjoying Baby Collards
Starting by cutting of the root of the plant if it’s still there and by cleaning them in a basin full of cold water. Cut the steams and central veins using a sharp knife and by slicing down the center. Cut the leaves down to one inch of length so it’s manageable to use.
It’s also possible to prepare them for cooking using vinegar. It’s a green alternative to all other cleaning techniques you have at your disposal. Add one cup of vinegar to the water and proceed in the same way as you would without it.
It’s important to note that the collards should be stored without washing them first. That way you won’t have extra water in the bag and there won’t be any rooting as the plants are left in the freezer. Keep the collards in an airtight bag without washing them and store them deep in the freezer.
They could be used for 5 to 7 days after you’ve bought them and after that it’s best to throw them away if you haven’t used them.
There are plenty of different ways to cook collards. They could be used as a wrap instead a taco and that’s how it’s often used in the south. They can also be mixed with different types of meat and thus create an interesting mix and balance with it.
It’s also an important ingredient of a lush and warm soup. There’s plenty you could do with collards since they can replace pretty much any other green that’s otherwise part of a sour recipe.
It’s also popular to stir the collards in frying pan and mix them up with some grind meat or potatoes. That’s an easy way to make a quick and nutritious meal with what you have laying around the kitchen.
They are very low in calories (provide only 32 calories per 100 g) and contain no cholesterol. Its green leaves contain a 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.
Collards are rich sources of phytonutrients 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.
Di-indolyl-methane has also found to be effective immune modulator, antibacterial and anti-viral properties by potentiating Interferon-gamma receptors.
The leaves are also excellent sources of folates, provides about 129 µg or 32% of RDA. Folates play a major role in the DNA synthesis, and when given during the peri-conception period can prevent neural tube defects in the baby.
Fresh collard leaves are also rich in vitamin-C, provides about 59% of RDA per 100 g. Vitamin-C is a powerful natural antioxidant that offers protection against free radical injury and flu-like viral infections.
When Are Baby Collards in Season in Texas?
To find out when Baby Collards are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.