Collards are very nutritious. They are low in calories but high in protein, vitamins, and minerals. It is always a good choice if you are looking for greens in the supermarket. They are affordable and easy to prepare, cook, and store at home.
Species: B. oleracea
Binomial name: Brassica oleracea
Cultivar group: Acephala Group
- There is evidence proving the idea that collards were a food crop as far back as the ancient Greeks.
- We are used to the idea of cabbages as a vegetable that has a “head” so it may come as a surprise to some people that collards, which do not form heads, are actually from the cabbage family.
- Collards are also known as tree cabbages.
Collard Buying Guide
Here are some things to remember when buying collards. First, check the condition of the leaves. It should have a nice, even green color with no yellow, brown, or other types of discoloration. There should be damage on the leaves or the edges, but do not expect perfectly good-looking collards especially if you are buying from local, organic farms that do not use pesticides, since it is common and ok that the leaves are uneven in size and slightly varying in their greenish color. As long as these are clean and safe to eat, there should be no problem buying them. Collards are very common in the supermarket, so it is unnecessary to stock up and buy in bulk unless you are cooking a big batch soon.
Collard Production & Farming in Texas
Thinking of planting some vegetables? Why not collards? They are sturdy, able to tolerate heat and cold. They are easy to plant, grow, and harvest.
You can start planting collards using either transplant (which is ideal for spring crops) or seeds. Make sure the soil temperature is 45 degrees F, which is the optimal temperature for seed sprouting.
In Texas, the soil is ready for collards for spring crop by February to March. Planting for fall crops is from August to September. The soil should be well-draining and should have a pH level of 6.5 for optimal growth of collards.
Fertilizer is important in growing collards, which are heavy feeders. For the leaves to turn their natural dark green, they need a sufficient supply of nitrogen. When you notice the leaves turning pale, that is a good indicator that your soil needs fertilizing. Use bone meal or composted manure.
Collards require weekly watering. Make sure the collards get six hours of full sunlight every day.
Remove weeds as soon as you see weeds emerging. Hand-pull the weeds to avoid damaging the roots of collards.
According to Texas A&M, there are several collard varieties to consider if you are planting collards in Texas.
- Blue Max
- Georgia LS
- Georgia Southern
- Top Bunch
Collards can grow in zones 3A to 11B. This means it can grow anywhere in Texas, a state that is inside zones 6 (Zone I) to 9B (Zone V).
Farmers growing collards may be inclined to use pesticides to manage pest problems such as aphids, bugs, and worms.
- Aphids – Kill aphids using neem oil, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil. You can also use the pesticide malathion, which is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide in the United States, or rotenone, a selective, non-specific insecticide typically used in home gardens for insect control.
- Bugs – To kill bugs, use derris or pyrethrum spray. Synthetic options include pyrethroids or malathion. although this will also kill pod bugs’ natural enemies like mantids (praying mantis), spiders, and wasps. Use broad-spectrum, pyrethroid-based insecticides like permethrin. The only disadvantage is the potential to kill bees and other beneficial insects as well. Farmers also use insecticidal soap or botanicals. Neem oil or pyrethrin may prove helpful. Bug sprays are effective against this pest. Use man-made pesticide carbaryl to rid of bugs. You can use 70% isopropyl alcohol or apple cider vinegar.
- Cabbage loopers – To kill this pest, use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) spray, insecticidal soap spray, or anti-parasite spray spinosad.
- Worms – To protect plants from worms, farmers use pesticides such as carbaryl, pyrethroid insecticides like cyfluthrin, and the insecticide permethrin, neem, spinosad, or chlorpyrifos (an organophosphate pesticide).
Many communities in different countries all around the world made collards part of their regular diet, from the African countries of Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda, to the European countries of Portugal, Spain, and the Balkans, to countries in the American continent like Brazil.
Collards cultivated today originated from a wild ancestor in Ancient Asia. The modern, cultivated collards originated from Greece. Collards are called sukuma in East Africa and muriwo or umBhida in Southern Africa. In Turkey, collards are known as kara lahana, which means dark cabbage. The Shona people of Zimbabwe call collards muriwo, while the Ndebele people call it mbida.
In Brazil and Portugal, the popular cultivars grown by farmers are couve manteiga and couve tronchuda.
Collards are biennial in places where there is winter frost, and perennial in warmer regions.
You’ll find freshly-cut collards sold in groceries and supermarkets in plastic packaging.
- Some come in round or rectangular waterproof transparent clamshell boxes with a lid made of PET material that can be used both for storage or display.
- Companies that seek to be environment-friendly opt for resealable packaging made from recycled materials like recycled PET and post-consumer recycled PET.
- There is also packaging made from plant-based plastics (PLA).
It is common to see collards wrapped in plastic or paper like a bouquet. Sometimes, these are bundled and tied with a string or rubber band, sold in small quantities. You can find these on a pile on a tray along with other greens and herbs for sale.
You can eat collards cooked or raw. When eating fresh collards, make sure to wash the collards thoroughly to remove any dirt or contaminants. Collards have a mild flavor; you’d say they taste less bitter than kale.
Eating collards means a high-fiber diet. Make sure to drink a lot of water. Excessive intake of collards means high fiber in the body; in excessive amounts, it could result in bloating or intestinal gas.
If you are taking blood-thinning medication, consult your doctor regarding a steady diet of collards which can plan an important role in coagulation or blood clotting.
If you are planning to store collards in the refrigerator, do not wash them. Instead, put them in a resealable plastic bag. Before closing the bag, try to remove as much air as possible. Another option is to wrap your collars in a moist paper towel, and then put them in a plastic bag before storing them in the refrigerator. Do it like this and you can have crisp collard even if you store these in the refrigerator for several days.
Freezing is a different matter. For this, you have to cut off the woody stems and wash the collards thoroughly, followed by a three-minute blanching and then an ice bath. Dry it off as best as you can before putting it in a freezer-safe food container. If you do this correctly, your collards will keep for as long as 12 months, even longer.
When cooking collards or eating it raw, make sure to remove the tough stem and center rib. You can use large collard leaves in salads, sandwiches, or wrap foods. If you are using them for soups, stews, omelets, or casserole dishes, make sure to chop collards into smaller pieces first.
Do not overcook collards to avoid losing the nutrients from the leaves.
It is common in many African countries to saute collards in onions and season them with salt. This could be the main dish or a side dish when there is also meat on the table. Congolese, Tanzanians, and Kenyans eat collards alongside sima (also known as ugali), a maize flour cake.
Collards are known as raštika or raštan in Montenegro, Dalmatia, and Herzegovina. During the winter, they make a stew of smoked mutton or cured pork, potatoes, root vegetables, and collards. Feijoada, a pork and beans-style stew in Brazil and Portugal, is eaten with collards, known locally as couve. Caldo verde or “green broth” is a popular Portuguese soup that has thinly-sliced collard strips.
In the US, collards are commonly used in mixed green dishes along with spinach and kale. Collards are also used in cooking meat dishes, and they taste good with pork or turkey. It is common to find collards served at the table for New Year’s dinner along with black-eyed peas. It is also used in making sauerkraut.
Collards contain important nutrients like calories, carbohydrates, fiber, protein, fat, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, manganese, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus. Eating collards can help you protect against cancer, improve digestive and bone health, and boost heart and eye health.