Advice on Collards

If you don't like collards, here is my advice: You never know what type of collard greens those are in the grocery store or where they come from. Collards can actually be grown and harvested most of the year, but the best, sweetest ones come straight from the field after the first frost. The old fashioned "cabbage head", also called Morris heading, are best. Stay away from loose or "Georgia" collards. You'll know they are good if you try a tender bit of a stem right where it joins the leaf. It should be sweet with just a hint of bitterness. We only cook them with fatback and salt ( no sugar or hamhock), but to each his own.
To cook collards: wash the leaves thoroughly, tear out the stems, chop the leaves into long, thick ribbons, chop the tender parts of the stems and discard the tough parts. Render out a few slices of fatback in a deep, wide pot. Remove the fatback and add some collards. Place the lid on just long enough for that bunch to wilt down and make room for the next. Add another bunch and stir them to the bottom. Repeat until everything is in the pot. Once you have enough cooked greens to press the raw bunches down, don't use the lid anymore. Salt to taste.
Be sure not to cook them with the lid on the pot. Putting it on for a minute every now and then to help wilt them down is fine. But collards release sulfur gas when the cook and if this is allowed to mix with the steam and fall back into the pot, it ruins the flavor and is actually a bit toxic. You know when your collards are cooked right because they stay vibrantly green. If they turn dark, olive brown, then they are full of sulfur. Also if they are fibrous or leathery, the leave were too old when picked. Look at the pic to see the color collards should be.
Beyond that, just be sure to have some apple cider vinegar in which hot peppers have been pickled to douse on when plated. If none of that works... well, you just might not like collards.


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