Learn how to cut collard greens plus where to buy them and how to pick, clean, and store fresh collard greens in this guide. Also, discover the many reasons and ways to eat them.
Collard greens are a staple in soul food and in southern cooking. This hardy, nutritious green can take some time to clean and cut them before cooking. Plus, the way you cut you cut your collards – how thick or thin – affects cook time.
The time it takes is worth every second. I’m going to walk you step by step through how to prep and cut collard greens to make vegan collard greens, these easy honey cider collards, a healthy weeknight side dish or to add to soup or stew.
You’ll see exactly how to clean, cut, and cook this southern staple vegetable both in pictures and a quick video!
Why are collard greens healthy?
Collard greens are nutritious. They provide calcium, vitamin K, fiber, and lots of polyphenols that may contribute additional health benefits such as protecting our body’s cells from damage.
Collards are also versatile in the kitchen. I prefer them as a side dish but have also added them to soups and stews. You can blanch the leaves and use as a sandwich wrap or to steam fish inside. Though you can use collards for a salad, they are best cooked in my opinion.
Collard greens are in season during the cooler months and taste best in December and January. So, now is the perfect time to grab a bunch of these healthy winter greens.
Where to buy collards
Collard greens are plentiful in the winter. I look for small bunches of young collard greens which are more tender and take less time to cook. The huge bunches of collards with the more mature leaves are also fine. Just know that you’ll need to cook them longer and the cleaning and cutting process can be a bit more cumbersome.
I recommend fresh greens for most recipes and avoid pre-cut bagged ones since those tend be tougher in texture.
Choose collard greens that are a dark green color with no limp, cracking, or yellowing leaves. The leaves and stems should feel supple and firm not wilting, splitting or dry.
You can also buy frozen collard greens at the supermarket. These are good for tossing into soup, stew, stir-fry, one-pot rice dishes, or smoothies.
Cleaning collard greens
This will take some time. And there are two main methods. I prefer the first method but the second one might save a little water.
– Separate the bunch of collard greens into individual leaves.
– Rinse each leaf carefully under cool running water. Take care to rub away any soil or debris that might collect on the leaf and especially around the stem on the front and backside. Once clean, set aside to prepare to slice.
– Swish and soak the greens in a large bowl of cool water (or a sanitized sink). The dirt will settle to the bottom of the bowl.
– Change the water several times. You’ll know the greens are clean when the water is clear.
Whether you use cool running water or the soaking method, be sure to look at each leaf to make sure there’s no clinging dirt or debris. Because of the way they grow, collard greens can be difficult to clean. And believe me no one wants gritty greens!
Storing fresh greens
Prep ahead: Clean a couple of collard bunches at a time. The clean, sliced and dry greens will keep for a week or longer in the fridge.
If your greens are wet. Use a salad spinner to remove any clinging moisture before placing in an airtight bag or container and into the refrigerator.
TIP: Prep your New Year’s Day collard greens the week before at the same time you’re cleaning and cutting your Christmas greens.
Best way to store greens
Fresh, unwashed collard greens will last about a week in the refrigerator. The key is making sure the greens are dry. So wash them right before you’re ready to cook them.
You can also prepare the greens this way. Wash, cut, and spin the greens dry. Store in a plastic bag with a paper towel to absorb any lingering water.
Once the greens are cooked, eat them within 1-2 days.
Cutting collard greens step-by-step
Once your greens are clean, it’s time to cut them. While a paring knife can work for the most skilled cooks, I use a cutting board and chef’s knife.
Step One: Stack the leaves placing the largest ones on the bottom of the pile. I’ve removed the stems but you can keep the thinner stems in, if you prefer.
Step 2: Roll the greens into a tight roll, being careful to tuck all leaves inside. The final roll should look like a fat cigar.
Step 3: Hold the roll firmly against the cutting board. Use the knife to slice through the collards creating thin strips.
For uniform cooking, slice your greens into evenly-sized ribbons.
Use your sliced greens in your favorite collard recipes. This size slice is perfect for a quick saute. Use thicker slices for longer cooking recipes.
Use your collard greens for a quick side dish recipe or traditional braised collard greens and more!
How to Cut Collard Greens
- Step 1: Stack the leaves placing the largest ones on the bottom of the pile. I’ve removed the stems but you can keep the thinner stems in, if you prefer.
- Step 2: Roll the greens into a tight roll, being careful to tuck all leaves inside. The final roll should look like a fat cigar.
- Step 3: Hold the roll firmly against the cutting board. Use the knife to slice through the collards creating thin strips. Get the full guide and recipes at marisamoore.com.