Collard greens are a hardy, long-season crop that grows well in any climate.
They are so hearty; they are one of the last crops harvested in cold weather.
In addition, collards are the only Brassica (cabbage) vegetable that can be harvested in winter.
All varieties of collard greens are rich in vitamins A and C and calcium, potassium, magnesium, folate, and more.
If you’ve never tasted them before, you should try them out this winter.
They make a great alternative to traditional green vegetables in the winter months.
These greens can be prepared in various ways, but It is best to harvest them early while still tender.
After the first frost, they taste better cooked than eaten raw.
You may have heard collard greens referred to as “the queen of greens”.
They do rank high on the list of favorite foods growing up in southern cooking.
Can you freeze collard greens? Well, yes, you certainly can.
The best way to freeze them is to blanch, refrigerate the cooked greens in a freezer bag or airtight container, and keep them for up to 6 months.
This article will guide you through the steps needed to freeze collard greens and how to thaw them.
Tips on Choosing Collard Greens
Collard greens are often confused with kale.
They look similar and are both from the cabbage family, but collard greens have some differences that make them more desirable for cooking purposes.
Once you learn how to tell the two apart, you will better select the right one for your recipes.
They are similar, but collards have smooth, shiny green leaves, where kale has crinkly and curly dark green leaves.
When choosing collard greens, look for fresh green leaves with few yellow spots and no signs of wilting.
The stems should be firm, straight, and unblemished.
Avoid collard greens that are limp or show any sign of discoloration. Also, check if the leaves are yellowing on the bottom.
Like other vegetables, once you get them home, store collard greens in the refrigerator for up to four days.
Keep them unwashed in a plastic bag before using.
If you can’t finish them all at once, you can also freeze collard greens.
This way, you’ll have a healthy and tasty vegetable available whenever you need it for your dishes.
Does Freezing Affect Collard Greens?
Yes, freezing affects collard greens. Freezing damages the texture of collard greens and will change their taste.
If frozen improperly, they can become soggy and mushy when thawed out.
So remember to use proper packaging methods when storing in the freezer to avoid any nutritional deficiencies or appearance changes.
When freezing collard greens, you should first blanch them.
Blanching is a process of briefly boiling then cooling off the produce in ice or cold water to halt enzyme action and preserve its original color, flavor, and nutritional value.
It also helps tenderize somewhat tough vegetables, like collard greens, mustard greens, broccoli rabe, kohlrabi tops, etc.
Don’t worry if you don’t have an ice bath handy; placing the vegetables immediately in a bowl of ice water after blanching works well.
By doing this, collard greens will maintain their bright green color and crisp texture after freezing.
How to Freeze Collard Greens?
Like most other leafy vegetables, you should blanch them before freezing.
This will help keep their flavor and color intact for up to 6 months. Freezing collard greens is simple and easy to do.
However, there are a few steps to follow to prepare them for the freezer properly.
First of all, you should drain excess water after washing your fresh collard greens.
Putting them on paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible will prevent ice crystals from forming or freezer burn and increase the storage time in your freezer.
Afterward, blanch collard greens for three minutes.
When blanching, use one of these two methods: placing the leaves into rapidly boiling water for 30 seconds then submerging them immediately into ice water or immersing fresh collards in a large pot of boiling water for 3 minutes.
Blanching help preserves the appetizing appearance, texture, and taste of your veggies.
It also makes the veggies ready to be frozen.
Freezing collard greens in a freezer bag is an excellent way to store your vegetables for up to 6 months.
You can also use vacuum packaging equipment to keep them for longer periods.
Make sure to mark the bag or container with the date of preparation and the number of leaves you put there for easier identification.
I like to use freezer bags because they are flexible, easy to store, and more importantly, I can see how well-frozen my collard greens are by looking at their color.
How to Thaw Frozen Collard Greens?
Now that you know how to freeze collard greens, how would you thaw them?
There are several methods for thawing frozen vegetables, and which one you choose will depend on how quickly you need them to be ready.
Remember that if your greens were frozen improperly (like in a plastic bag), they might get mushy and soggy when thawing, so it’s best to use the slowest method available for thawing out your collard greens.
1 – At room temperature.
When thawing collard greens at room temperature, you should place your frozen greens somewhere where they can thaw slowly, so that their texture won’t be damaged.
You can also speed up the process by placing them in a bowl of cold water.
This way, they’ll be thawed out in about an hour.
If you’re planning on sautéing your collard greens, it’s best to thaw them first before adding them into the pan completely.
This allows their flavor and color to remain intact during cooking.
2 – In the fridge.
Another popular method of thawing frozen collard greens is placing them in the refrigerator.
This will take about a day to thaw out completely.
Whichever method you choose, make sure to plan and use your frozen ingredients as soon as possible so that they won’t go bad.
How to Cook Thawed Collard Greens?
Once you’ve successfully thawed your collard greens, it’s time to cook them.
Now you might be wondering: How do I cook thawed collard greens?
The preparation of cooked, tender collard greens is really simple and easy.
You can either steam them or sauté them (or both) in a frying pan with some oil and seasonings.
Steaming collard greens is one of the easiest ways to prepare them.
To do this, place the thawed collards into a steamer basket along with some water or broth for 30 minutes.
If you’re planning on using a pot with less volume, make sure to place a rack in the bottom of it for better cooking results.
You can also add some aromatics (onions, garlic, ginger) into the water to give your collard greens a more intense flavor.
After you’ve steamed the greens, remove them from the pot and drain any excess water.
Add butter to your collard greens while they are still warm. This’ll help draw out their nutritious juices.
You can also top them with a dash of salt and pepper for that extra kick of flavor.
If you want a healthier option, feel free to use vinegar or lemon juice instead of butter.
How to Tell if Frozen Collard Greens are Bad?
Since frozen collard greens are kept on the same shelf as other frozen veggies, you might be wondering: How can I tell if my frozen collard greens have gone bad?
The first thing to check is their color.
If your greens have started turning brown around the edges or they’re already a dark green color, it’s best to throw them away.
If the color of your collard greens looks normal, smell them to see if they have a bad odor.
If they do, throw them away right away.
Fresh ones should not have any off-putting smells.
You can also check their texture instead of seeing and smelling them to make sure they are still fresh.
If they feel slimy to the touch, throw them away without further thought.
If your collard greens pass all these tests and you’re still not sure whether or not they are safe to eat, it’s best to discard them.
You don’t want to take any chances.
In conclusion, collard greens are very healthy, whether you’re cooking them or freezing them.
If you’re looking for a way to preserve your collard greens while retaining their taste and texture, freezing is the way to go.
4-5 minutes of prep work is all it takes to freeze these delicious veggies.
Once you’ve successfully frozen your collard greens, use them in soups, stews, or casseroles.
You can even use them as a substitute for cabbage on traditional recipes like coleslaw (great with low carb, keto, or paleo diets).