Nutritional Value and Health Benefits of Collards

Collards are fibrous, tough, mild-flavored greens that require long cooking. Hiding under the green chlorophyll pigment is an excellent source of beta carotene and some vitamin C and calcium. The darker the leaf the more beta carotene provided. Like broccoli and cabbage, the antioxidants and phytochemicals in collards may help to reduce the risk of some forms of cancer and heart disease. Collards contain very small amounts of fat and sodium.


Nutrition Facts

(1/2 cup cooked collard greens)

  • Calories 56
  • Protein 1 gram
  • Dietary fiber 2.9 grams
  • Carbohydrates 2.5 mg
  • Dietary fiber 0.4 mg
  • Calcium 74 mg
  • Vitamin A 2,109 IU
  • Vitamin C 9 mg


Preparation and Serving

Wash collard greens in several changes of cool water to remove all dirt and grit. Remove the tough stems and central vein as well. Collard greens are tough and depending on the maturity of the leaves, may require 20 minutes to one hour of cooking time. The green leaves turn dark green during this long cooking process, and the cooking water will be greatly reduced.

Unfortunately, nutrients are leached out into the cooking liquid that many people pour down the drain. This cooking liquid or "pot likker," as it is called in southern states, is full on valuable nutrients. Save it to add to soups or soak it up with a piece of hot cornbread. Learn more about selecting and preserving collards.


Home Preservation

Collards are best eaten fresh. Come winter, if you have large quantities left in your garden, freezing is the best way to preserve them. Like all vegetables, collards must be blanched before freezing. If not, the leaves will become tough and flavorless upon thawing and cooking. The blanching time for collard greens is 3-4 minutes per pound.

  • In a blanching pot or large pot with a tight fitting lid, bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil.
  • Meanwhile, wash collards, trim stem ends and cut into 1-inch pieces or leave whole.
  • Blanch no more than one pound at a time. Add collards to boiling water and immediately cover with a tight fitting lid.
  • Start timing immediately and blanch for 3-4 minutes.
  • Prepare an ice water bath in a large 5-quart container or the sink.
  • Remove collards from water with a slotted spoon or blanching basket.
  • Emerge in the ice water bath for five minutes or until cooled. If you do not have ice, use several changes of cold water or running cold water. Remove and drain.
  • Pack cold collards in zip-closure freezer bags or freezer containers. Squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing bags.
  • Label and date each container or bag. Immediately place in the freezer, allowing an inch of space around each container until it is frozen. Freeze for up to one year at 0 degrees F. or below.

Blanching water can be used over and over again. Add more water if necessary. Remember to always bring water back to a rolling boil before blanching more vegetables.


Flavor Enhancements

The bitter flavor of cooked collards is enhanced when served with vinegar. Flavored vinegar such as chili vinegar or the vinegar from pickled peppers is especially good. Also use onions, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, and crushed red pepper to season collards.