Collard greens

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This article is about the plant. For the Schoolboy Q song, see Collard Greens (song).
Collard greens
A bundle of collard greens
Species Brassica oleracea
Cultivar group Acephala Group
Origin unknown
Cultivar group members Many, and some are known by other names.

Collard greens (collards) is the American English term for various loose-leafed cultivars of Brassica oleracea, part of the Acephala group which also contains cabbage and broccoli. The plants are grown for their large, dark-colored, edible leaves and as a garden ornamental, mainly in Brazil, Portugal, the southern United States, many parts of Africa, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, southern Croatia, northern Spain and in northern India. They are classified in the same cultivar group as kale and spring greens, to which they are genetically similar. The name "collard" is a corrupted form of the word "colewort" (the wild cabbage plant).

The plant is also called couve in Brazil and in Portugal, couve galega or couve portuguesa (among several other names) in Cape Verde, berza in Spanish-speaking countries, verza in Italian, raštika in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and raštan in Montenegro and Serbia. In Kashmir, it is called haak. In Tanzania and Kenya it is more commonly known by its Swahili name, sukuma wiki, and is often confused with kales. In New Zealand, it is called Dalmatian Cabbage.[1]

Young collard plants growing in a container


The cultivar group name Acephala ("without a head" in Greek) refers to the fact that this variety of B. oleracea does not have the usual close-knit core of leaves (a "head") like cabbage.[2] The plant is a biennial where winter frost occurs, and perennial in even colder regions.[citation needed] It is also moderately sensitive to salinity. It has an upright stalk, often growing up to two feet tall. The plant is very similar to kale. Popular cultivars of collard greens include 'Georgia Southern', 'Morris Heading', 'Butter Collard' (or couve manteiga), and couve tronchuda.

A collard green field in Pennsylvania

Cultivation and storage[edit]

The plant is commercially cultivated for its thick, slightly bitter, edible leaves. They are available year-round, but are tastier and more nutritious in the cold months, after the first frost.[3] For best texture, the leaves should be picked before they reach their maximum size, at which stage the leaves will be thicker and should be cooked differently from the new leaves. Age will not affect flavor. Flavor and texture also depend on the cultivar; the couve manteiga and couve tronchuda are especially appreciated in Brazil and Portugal.

Fresh collard leaves can be stored for up to 10 days if refrigerated to just above freezing (1°C) at high humidity (>95%). In domestic refrigerators, fresh collard leaves can be stored for about three days. Once cooked, they can be frozen and stored for greater lengths of time.

Collards, frozen, chopped, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 151 kJ (36 kcal)
7.1 g
Sugars 0.57 g
Dietary fiber 2.8 g
2.97 g
Vitamin A equiv.
575 μg
6818 μg
10898 μg
Thiamine (B1)
0.047 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
0.115 mg
Niacin (B3)
0.635 mg
0.115 mg
Vitamin B6
0.114 mg
Folate (B9)
76 μg
Vitamin C
26.4 mg
Vitamin E
1.25 mg
Vitamin K
623.2 μg
Trace metals
210 mg
1.12 mg
30 mg
0.663 mg
27 mg
251 mg
50 mg
0.27 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Nutritional information[edit]

Widely considered to be a healthy food, collards are good sources of vitamin C and soluble fiber, and contain multiple nutrients with potent anticancer properties, such as diindolylmethane[4] and sulforaphane.[5][6][7] Roughly a quarter pound (approx. 100 g) of cooked collards contains 46 calories.

Collard greens are also a high source of vitamin K (the clotting vitamin) and should be eaten in moderation by individuals taking blood thinners.

Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley have recently discovered that 3,3'-diindolylmethane in Brassica vegetables such as collard greens is a modulator of the innate immune response system with potent antiviral, antibacterial and anticancer activity.[8]

Culinary use[edit]

Collard greens have been eaten for at least 2000 years, with evidence showing that the Ancient Greeks cultivated several forms of both collard greens and kale.[9]

Southern United States[edit]

Collard greens are a staple vegetable of Southern U.S. cuisine. They are often prepared with other similar green leaf vegetables, such as kale, turnip greens, spinach, and mustard greens in "mixed greens".[10] They are generally eaten year-round in the South. Typical seasonings when cooking collards can consist of smoked and salted meats (ham hocks, smoked turkey drumsticks, pork neckbones, fatback or other fatty meat), diced onions, vinegar, salt, and black, white, or crushed red pepper, and some cooks add a small amount of sugar. Traditionally, collards are eaten on New Year's Day,[11] along with black-eyed peas or field peas and cornbread, to ensure wealth in the coming year,[12][13] as the leaves resemble folding money.[14][15] Cornbread is used to soak up the "pot liquor", a nutrient-rich collard broth. Collard greens may also be thinly sliced and fermented to make collard kraut, which is often cooked with flat dumplings.

Tanzania and Kenya (East Africa)[edit]

Collard greens are known as 'sukuma wiki' in Tanzania and Kenya.

In Congo, Tanzania and Kenya (East Africa), thinly sliced collard greens are the main accompaniments of a popular dish known as sima or ugali (a maize flour cake).

'Sukuma Wiki' is mainly lightly sauteed in oil until tender, flavoured in onions and seasoned with salt and is served either as the main accompaniment or as a side dish with preferred meat (fish, chicken, beef, pork).

Brazil and Portugal[edit]

Caldo verde is a popular Portuguese soup made with collard greens.

In Portuguese and Brazilian cuisine, collard greens (or couve) are common accompaniments of fish and meat dishes. They are a standard side dish for feijoada, a popular pork and beans-style stew.

Thinly sliced collard greens are also the main ingredient of a popular Portuguese soup, caldo verde (green broth). For this broth the leaves are sliced into strips, 2 or 3 mm wide (sometimes by the grocer or market vendor, with a special hand-cranked slicer) and added to the other ingredients 15 minutes before it is served.

Kashmir valley[edit]

In Kashmir Valley collard greens are included in almost every meal, with both leaves and roots consumed. Leaves in the bud are harvested by pinching in early spring when the dormant buds sprout and give out tender leaves. Also, seedlings of 35–40 days' age, as well as mature plants, are pulled out along with roots from thickly sown beds. When the extending stem bears alternate leaves in quick succession during on-season, older leaves are harvested periodically. Before the autumn season, the apical portion of stem is removed along with the whorled leaves. It is called haak there.

The roots and the leaves may be cooked together or separately. A common dish is haak rus, a soup of whole collard leaves cooked in water, salt and oil along with many other spices,usually consumed with rice. The leaves are also cooked along with meat, fish or cheese. In the winter, collard leaves and roots are fermented to form a very popular pickle called haak-e-aanchaar.

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Brassica oleracea var. acephala". Floridata. 2007-02-06. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  3. ^ "Birney Imes: Amazing collards - The Dispatch". 2012-07-21. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  4. ^ "Collard greens nutrition facts". Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  5. ^ "Start eating green for your health this St. Patrick's Day". 2007-03-05. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  6. ^ "Glucosinolates and Sulforaphane in Broccoli and Cruciferous Vegetables May Help Prevent and Treat Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Bacterial Infections, and Some Cancers". 2011-04-25. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  7. ^ "Prostate Cancer: Why Cruciferous Vegetables". 2012-02-12. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  8. ^ Gong Y, Sohn H, Xue L, Firestone GL, Bjeldanes LF (May 2006). "3,3'-Diindolylmethane is a novel mitochondrial H(+)-ATP synthase inhibitor that can induce p21(Cip1/Waf1) expression by induction of oxidative stress in human breast cancer cells". Cancer Res. 66 (9): 4880–7. doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-05-4162. PMID 16651444. 
  9. ^ "Greeks and Romans Grew Kale and Collards | Archives | Aggie Horticulture". Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  10. ^ Diana Rattray, Guide (2012-04-10). "Mixed Greens - Recipe for Greens". Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  11. ^ "Spicy Collard and Black-eyed Pea Soup". 2009-12-28. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  12. ^ Loner, Valerie (Dec 31, 1992). "Jowls, greens ready. Special foods on New Year's bringing luck?". Rome News-Tribune. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  13. ^ "Dine wise on New Year's Day, Certain foods could bring you luck". 2011-01-01. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  14. ^ "Chew on This! - Why We Eat Collards on New Years". Free Times. 2010-12-29. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  15. ^ Edwards, Bennett (Jan 1, 1974). "Across the editors desk". The Anson Record. Retrieved 2012-07-26.