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Perfect Southern Collard Greens Recipe – Get The Secret

A flavorful bowl of slowly cooked collards with some spicy broth and bacon is just the thing  You’ll know the secret to southern collard greens with this soul food collard greens recipe from a sweet little old Southern grandma!

An overhead view of a bowl of greens for THE SECRET TO PERFECT SOUTHERN COLLARD GREENS

THE SECRET TO PERFECT SOUTHERN COLLARD GREENS

Why This Recipe Works…

  • Uses fresh “out of the garden” collards to create a flavorful soul food collard greens recipe.
  • It shows you EXACTLY how to clean the fresh collard greens
  • Uses meats, spices and things you already have at home. 

Here’s How It’s Done

 If you have whole collard leaves or you picked them yourself, you MUST clean them fully. The next instructions are for that. If you have the pre washed and bagged collards from the grocery, then a simple rinse is all you need…

STEP 1. First remove any severely damaged or bug eaten leaves from the bunch.

The collards sitting beside the sink with some of the bad leaves removed (to the left)

HOW TO CLEAN COLLARD GREENS

STEP 2. Fill your sink with lukewarm water, and put the collard greens in to be washed. The leaves tend to float. Add vinegar to wash the collards. (see recipe for amounts)

 

A photo ofThe first wash for the collard greens - going in the bath with the vinegar

HOW TO CLEAN COLLARD GREENS

STEP 3. Once you have added the vinegar to the water and you have the leaves all in floating, you will start swishing the leaves up and down.

The collards first wash in the sink - getting ready to start swishing up and down and side to side.

HOW TO CLEAN COLLARD GREENS

STEP 4. Allow the collard greens to sit and soak for a few minutes.

The leaves floating during their first wash

HOW TO CLEAN COLLARD GREENS

STEP 5.  After swishing them up and down in the water for a few minutes you will want to let them rest so that any sand and dirt falls to the bottom of the sink. Then remove the clean collards from the sink and allow them to drain before repeating the process three times. No need for vinegar the second two times.

The trimmed leaves in the colander, draining, waiting for another bath

HOW TO CLEAN COLLARD GREENS

STEP 6. Remove the stalk and inspect each piece to clean collard greens. 

  • Remove each  green leaf individually from the colander.
  • Inspect the leaf.
  • If you are in doubt at all – put it in the discard pile.
  • Discard any leaves with many bug holes or with large patches of yellow/brown discolored areas.
  • Just know, if your greens come from a local backyard patch – there could be worms too. Don’t worry – just flick them off and move on.

STEP 7. Cut the Collard Green Leaves

  • Fold the leaf in half at the stalk like a book.
  • Using a very sharp knife, cut the leaf along the spine so that you are cutting both sides of the spine at the same time.
  • Remove and discard the spine.
  • Repeat for each leaf for how to clean collard greens.
  • Make a stack of 5-10 leaves and roll them up like a cigar.
  • Cut the cigar every 1 1/2 inches.
  • When unrolled, the collards will be cut into long strips.
Showing the technique for cutting the stem out of the leaf.

HOW TO CLEAN COLLARD GREENS

STEP 8 . Cook the Collards, eat and enjoy!

A close up view of greens THE SECRET TO PERFECT SOUTHERN COLLARD GREENS

 

What Do I Serve With Collard Greens?

Collard greens work GREAT with My Mom’s Meatloaf and other sides like Corn on the Cob, Sweet Potato Casserole and Mac and Cheese

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) about Southern Soul Food Collard Greens Recipe

HOW TO CLEAN COLLARD GREENS?

If you read the internets much, you will find that there are MANY ways to clean collard greens, there are people washing them in the washing machine and people washing them in dish detergent. I saw videos of people washing them in hydrogen peroxide and people washing them in salt water.

That is NOT how I was taught to wash greens.

WHY THIS METHOD FOR HOW TO CLEAN COLLARD GREENS WORKS:

This method of cleaning collard greens works because it is an EASY step by step process designed to have you in and out of the kitchen FAST!

  • It’s easy
  • This way is fast
  • You have everything you need at home.

WHY YOU WASH COLLARD GREENS?

Why washing collard greens is such a big deal?

  • The reason washing farm fresh collard greens is such a big deal is because collard greens grow in sandy soil which ends up in the collard greens and can not be effectively washed off by the farmer. This makes a difference if you are purchasing whole leaf collard greens like is found in this post.
  • for the “pre washed and pre cut” collard greens that you find sealed in plastic bags at the grocery,  a single rinse should be more than sufficient.

HOW TO CLEAN COLLARD GREENS?

  • Fill the sink at least 1/2 way up with tepid (slightly warm) water and then add 1/2 cup white vinegar  (the water temp feels about the same as my skin temp). Put the greens in and swish them around – side to side and push them up and down in the sink. Collards tend to float – the grit falls down into the bottom of the sink. Do this swishing thing about every 10 minutes and let the greens soak this first time about 90 minutes total.
  • Remove the greens from the sink, rinsing them under cold water as you remove them. Allow to drain into a colander set into a large bowl.
  • Let the water drain from the sink and then wash the sink very well – making sure there is no grit or bugs or dirt in the sink.

WASH AGAIN

  • Fill the sink again with cold water – 1/2 way up.
  • Put the greens back in the sink. Swish some more – up and down. Side to side. Repeat the swishing around 3-4 times.
  • Rinse the greens again as you remove them from the water to the colander.
  • Clean the sink again.

WASH AGAIN

  • Repeat the swishing,
  • remove to colander,
  • clean the sink,
  • fill the sink,
  • soak the greens a total of 3 times after the initial tepid water bath. 

How Long Should Collard Greens Soak?

You’ll want to wash the greens at least 3 times using vinegar on the first rinse. Soak each time for at least 5 minutes to allow any grit to fall down to the bottom of the sink. 

How To Remove the Bitterness From Collard Greens? 

If your collards are bitter, then you will want to add a little extra vinegar and salt. Salt removes bitterness in almost all recipes. 

Can Collard Greens be Eaten Raw? 

Yes, you CAN eat collard greens raw, but you will want to massage them and cut them very small or shred them.

What’s the History of Collard Greens? 

Collard Greens have a LONG American history but I think it’s important for us to examine some of their African Roots. Here’s an excellent article about that. 

How Long Will Collard Greens Last? 

  • Uncooked collard greens are good for a few days before you have to cook them up. 
  • Cooked collard greens are good for about 5 days. 
  • Once cooked, don’t allow them to sit out on for more than 2 days. 

Can I Freeze Collard Greens? 

Yes, you CAN freeze collard greens once cooked. Place the collards in a freezer safe container, remove as much air as possible and freeze for up to 3 months. 

A photo of a fork full of greens THE SECRET TO PERFECT SOUTHERN COLLARD GREENS

HOW TO CLEAN COLLARD GREENS

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE SECRET TO SOUTHERN Soul Food COLLARD GREENS Recipe.

  • Clean collard greens very well using the process described above. Don’t skimp or you will end up with sandy gritty pieces in your collards and that is gross.
  • Make sure to remove any pests you find when washing – cause, ewww.
  • Cut into strips – this is the accepted method and yields the proper mouthful of tender greens
  • You’ll need a large pot to cook these in, about 6 quarts is good. 

AFTER TWO HOURS OF COOKING…

  • After two hours of cooking, if they aren’t as tender as you like, then cook some more – just check every 15-20 minutes so that you don’t over cook them – unless you like them overcooked, in which case – do as you see fit.
  • Washing is the hardest part.

BUTTER AND BACON?

  • You are going to ask if you can use something besides butter or bacon – the answer is – yes, use whatever you like – but you won’t be making this recipe if you do. These are traditional southern greens and bacon grease, onions and garlic are just part of the deal.
  • I have a good friend who uses coconut oil and coconut milk. I’m positive she is a wonderful cook. Probably works great – but that is a different recipe. If you want to cook the recipe for the perfect southern soul food collard greens recipe, then this is that recipe.

WHAT ABOUT HEAT?

  • The hot pepper flakes do not make your green very hot – it just adds flavor. Do not be afraid to add them.
  • Add hot vinegar to the finished greens if you like yours hotter – that is what I do.
  • You’ll need to be liberal with the salt and pepper and hot sauce, just saying!
  • The apple cider vinegar you want to use? Use it! How about a dash more chicken broth? Great!

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A photo of a fork full of greens THE SECRET TO PERFECT SOUTHERN COLLARD GREENS

THE SECRET TO PERFECT SOUTHERN COLLARD GREENS

This is a recipe for Collard Greens. See www.loavesanddishes.net for more great recipes!
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: greens
Cuisine: American
Keyword: collard greens, how to cook collard greens
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 280kcal
Author: Loaves and Dishes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup unsalted sweet cream butter
  • 6 strips of heavy flavorful bacon - cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 medium onion - chopped small
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 6 lbs of greens cleaned and stemmed
  • 32 oz chicken stock
  • 1 tsp chicken stock concentrate
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Instructions

  • Using a large heavy stock pot (I use my 6 quart porcelain coated cast iron dutch oven), melt 1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) in the bottom of the pot over medium heat.
  • Cut up 6 strips of thick bacon into 2 inch pieces.  Add to the melted butter. Cook  until done.
  • Add 1 onion, chopped small, and cook in the fats until translucent.  Add the garlic and heat for 1 minute.
  • After sauteing the garlic for 1 minute, add the greens a few at the time, allowing them to wilt as you go.
  • Once the greens are all in the pot, Add 1 32 oz box of chicken stock.
  • After the the greens come to temp, have wilted down in the pan, Add 1 tsp chicken stock concentrate, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 2 tsp sugar,  1 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes. Give everything a good stir.
  • Put the lid on and set the stove on low.  Check and stir every 30 minutes or so.  Add more stock if needed.  After 2 hours the greens should be done, tender and flavorful

Notes

  • For perfect collard greens, you'll want to know how to wash collard greens effectively.  Refer back to the photos in this post. 
  • Cook your collard greens until they are the right consistency for you.  Many people like them more soft and some people less so.  It's your choice. 
  • Always offer hot vinegar and regular vinegar to those eating your collards.  People tend to like both. 
PRO TIP:  Your collards will always taste best when you add some fat from a smoky piece of meat.  I use bacon in this recipe, but you can use a ham hock or smoked turkey leg too. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
THE SECRET TO PERFECT SOUTHERN COLLARD GREENS
Amount Per Serving
Calories 280 Calories from Fat 171
% Daily Value*
Fat 19g29%
Saturated Fat 9g45%
Cholesterol 44mg15%
Sodium 719mg30%
Potassium 768mg22%
Carbohydrates 18g6%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 9g18%
Vitamin A 4240IU85%
Vitamin C 80.6mg98%
Calcium 57mg6%
Iron 2.5mg14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @loavesanddishes or tag #loavesanddishes!

***This post originally appeared on the pages of Loaves and Dishes on October 21, 2018 and has been updated with “why this recipe works” “Here’s how its done”. Step by step instructions, Frequently asked questions, video, nutrition information, updated instructions***

A VERSE TO SHARE

Here is an amazing fact that I totally hope is true. Recently, I heard this on Super Soul Sunday with Oprah when her guest said,  “There are 365 instances in the Bible where God says, “Be not afraid” .

God tells us NOT to be AFRAID 365 times which is the same as ONE FOR EVERY SINGLE DAY OF THE YEAR!

Apparently, God tells us not to be afraid MORE than he tells us anything else!

Luke 12:4

And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.

 

 

 

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Recipe Rating




Jaira

Friday 1st of November 2019

Thank you so much for the clear and exact cleaning instructions! It was exactly what I needed, and I am so happy to have found this! Thank you!

Wendi Spraker

Saturday 2nd of November 2019

Jaira, Thank you so much for leaving me a comment! I'm glad you found the info that you needed. A dear older lady who I knew about 30 years ago taught me to clean them that way and that is what I am sharing here. Blessings to you!

janet austin

Saturday 1st of December 2018

Thank you for taking the time to teach the correct way to clean greens. Just what I was looking for. I made this for my family and they loved it. Thank you. In fact they want me to make more lol.

Debbie Silsbee

Thursday 22nd of November 2018

Best collard greens I've ever eaten! Tender, flavorful, not too sweet, and not too hot! Perfect! I ate two bowls before I took them to my sister's house for Thanksgiving.

Wendi Spraker

Thursday 22nd of November 2018

Hi Debbie! Happy Thanksgiving!!! I’m so glad you enjoyed them!!

Moxie

Friday 2nd of February 2018

Thanks for showing us how to clean these greens - that is just what I needed to know!

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