Over the holidays, we experienced a killing freeze that set gardens and farms back temporarily. Thankfully, a large swath of the garden had been planted in collards by Working Food seed savers – and they survived! Collards are a member of the brassica family of plants which also includes kale, turnips, mustard greens, broccoli, cabbage, and more. They may have originated in Central Asia or the Mediterranean, but spread to Europe, China, and Japan by 1000 BC!
Collards are a mainstay in the American south, growing well in sandy soil and perfect for our relatively mild winters. Southern cooks know how to cook them up in a pot with a little ham bone or turkey neck till tender, using the broth (pot likker) as a dip for cornbread. But there are so many ways to use them – massaged to tenderness for use in a cold salad, as a sandwich wrap, or stems pickled or fried like a french fry. They are served regularly as “Mixed greens” in school lunches.