Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Harvesting and Freezing Collard Greens

I know-by just looking at the title some of you have likely already started gagging at the word "collard" or maybe you don't even know what they are.  So - trust me when I say, they are an acquired taste and most commonly found in southern cooking.  They are a green leefy vegetable (sort of like kale or other mustard greens) that are generally cooked with "streak of lean/streak of fat" or "fat back" for added flavor in a pot for about an hour or so - they get mushy so I really don't think you can "overcook" them.  I generally add cider vinegar to mine when I eat them and refuse to eat these things cold!

The hubs and I started a family garden in our backyard last year and LOVE to plant all sorts of wonderful veggies in it.  We really try to hard to utlize it all year round and not just in the summer when the tomatoes are best (although, those are my favorite).  So this past fall we my mom planted the collards and cabbage we purchased (it was early October and our little girl arrived a little earlier than planned so my momma was nice enough to not let these little collards die a slow death in their store bought container).  We have watched them grow, get covered in over a foot of snow, see the first signs of springs, and FINALLY it was time to harvest our goods.  They (all of those real farmers who have FAR more experience than me) say that the best time to pick collards is January through April and well, its April and I need the bed/box space for my summer stuff.  So, this past weekend, I harvested and froze the collard greens (clearly we weren't going to eat collards for breakfast-lunch-dinner, repeat) from our garden.  I thought I'd share how we did it because prior to this weekend, I'd never frozen collards and trust me, it wasn't bad.  So, here's the play-by-play on a process called "blanching" (yep, just learned that too this weekend - I think I'm becoming more domestic by the minute:)):

Things You Need:
* Stock pot filled 2/3 full
* Bowl filled with cool water
* Bowl filled with COLD water and ice cubes
* Collander
* Tongs
* Timer
* Garden shears

Step by step:
1.  I first clipped the collards I wanted off of the plant using my garden/kitchen shears.  I discarded those greens that graced the ground as well as the itty bitty greens that were new growth (basically I stuck to the middle 2/3 of the plant).

2.  Place the stockpot on the burner (filled 2/3 of the way with water) and bring to a boil.

3.  Place the picked greens in a large bowl of cool water (I didn't do them all at once because I had far too many so I did it in sections).  Once they had soaked for about a minute, I looked each leaf over to check for bugs or any signs of fungus and brush off anything that hadn't fallen off in the water.  I dumped the water and then re-filled to give the leaves another bath.

4.  Place the greens in the stockpot (once the water is boiling) and cover tightly and let boil for 3 minutes.

5.  After 3 minutes, remove promptly using the tongs and place in bowl filled with COLD water and ice cubes.  Make sure the greens are fully immersed in the water to ensure the cooking has stopped.  Allow to cool in the bowl for 3 minutes.

6.  Remove from the bowl and place in a collander to drain off excess water then squeeze the greens out to remove as much water as possible.

7.  Once water has been removed, place in a freezer bag and remove as much air as possible for sealing.  One trick I like to use if you don't have a food sealer is to leave just enough room along the zipper to place a straw in the corner and suck any remaining air out.  It helps, promise!!  Your collards are now ready to be put in the freezer for a later date!

So that's it, super easy!  I now have several bags of collard greens that we can eat whenever our hearts desire.


Samantha said...

I agree that they are an acquired taste, but as long as you know how to cook them, they are delish! There is nothing better than fresh veggies/fruit. I hope you'll share pics of the rest of your harvests!

Beach Bum & Baby said...

Awesome post girl!! Look at you being super-duper domestic!! Love it! :)

Unknown said...

Wow thats awesome! I wish I had some sort of green thumb but I totally dont!

Kelli Kegley said...

I can't believe we haven't planted our garden yet. I love having on e too, but ave never done anything in the winter. Maybe I will this year!

Megan said...

Thanks for sharing! Your greens look so healthy! I wish I could grow a garden, but it's just not a skill I have.

Laura @ My Thoughts-Uninterrupted said...

I love collard greens. Didn't know you could freeze them!

Happiness Is... said...

Yum. That is all.