About Collard Greens

January 2, 2012

About Collard Greens

Collards for Wealth and Health. It’s customary in the U.S. South to eat collard greens (along with your black-eyed peas and cornbread) on the first day of the year. Doing so is said to bring financial prosperity, as the folded green leaves resemble money itself. If you missed out on that tradition on January 1st, at the very least you’ll get a good dose of vitamin C and soluble fiber, plus of slew of anticancer nutrients, when you’ll next eat them. That’s something to iron your collar for.

Actually, the name “collard” is short for “colewort,” which means “cabbage plant,” given that collard greens are a species of loose-leaf cabbage. Collards are large, dark, waxy greens that some folks find bitter. One of the oldest members of the cabbage family, collards were eaten by the ancient Greeks (along with their close relative, kale) and also by the Romans, who may have introduced them to the British Isles. Today, collards are eaten all over the world, particularly in Brazil, Portugal, parts of Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Kashmir region of India and Pakistan.

You can cook collard greens the traditional Southern way by boiling them or simmering them slowly with a ham hock or salt pork. If you do so, be sure to save the liquid in the pan for dipping. It’s known as “potlikker” or “pot liquor,” a highly nutritious broth said to cure you of anything that ails you. You can also chop up these greens and add them to stir fry, or simply sauté them with onions or garlic. I’ve even blended them up in a smoothie! If you don’t care for tough stems, you’ll want to remove them before cooking or blending. No matter how you cook them, collard greens bring good health. If you somehow can’t eat them, at the very least you can stick a large leaf on your forehead. Supposedly, that will cure a headache.

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