Collard greens are a great and hearty side dish for any meal, but they're often not as talked about as their cousins, kale and spinach. Collard greens, or collards, as they're often called, are an important ingredient in Southern cuisine. While they can be eaten either raw or cooked, cooked greens contain another level of depth and flavor, as well as a softer texture. Like any vegetable, collard greens do take a bit of prep to clean, but the payoff is well worth it.
Greens from the garden, a farmers market, or a grocery store all need to be cleaned, as there could be dirt and excess grit buried in the leaves. Before cleaning the greens, some people like to remove the stems. These take longer to cook and also contribute to greens' sometimes bitter taste, so if you like, you can cut them out or remove them by hand. Unlike many other greens, however, the collard variety cannot simply be rinsed under the sink before being cooked. Too much grit will be left behind unless the greens undergo a nice, long soak.
Collard Greens Need Extra T.L.C.
Making collard greens isn't a quick process, and a significant chunk of that process is prep and cleaning time. Once the greens have been unwrapped, it's best to fill your sink or even a large bowl and fill it with cold tap water. The greens should then soak for at least 10 to 15 minutes for all the grit, dirt, and/or bugs to release into the water. Once you see dirt in the water, remove each stalk and run it under fresh water a few times so it gets a good rinse. You can then blot the leaves dry on a paper towel.
If you find your greens have a lot of visible dirt or grime, you can make a simple, non-toxic cleaning solution by mixing white vinegar and salt into the water. The salt and vinegar won't impart any flavor to the greens but will help extract any tricky dirt that won't come out with water alone. Once the greens are completely cleaned and dry, it's time to cook them up using your favorite collard greens recipe. The key is to stew the greens for a long time to soften them and remove bitterness. Fully cooking the greens takes about 45 minutes to an hour, so leave yourself more than enough time for both prepping and cooking.
Read the original article on Mashed.