Collard Greens – How to Preserve A Southern Tradition
Imagine a time and place where you were encouraged to make a mess at the dinner table. Maybe it’s never happened to you. I could count on no hands the number of times it has happened to me! For a southerner, a “mess o’ greens” is normal, and a favorite part of the meal. And pressure canning collard greens no matter your location (I am from the north) will become your new favorite family tradition!
What am I talking about? Collard greens! The official vegetable of South Carolina and a folklore cure-all. In case you’ve never had the opportunity to try these before, collard greens consist of any member of the cabbage family in which the leaves do not grow tightly together. In fact, “collard” comes from the word “colewort” which means “wild cabbage plant.” Plants popping into your head might include spinach, collards, mustard, or kale!
What is a Collard Green?
Traditionally, every leaf-y bit that you have is chopped up and left to simmer on the stove with a bit of meet or fat (for flavor) until all of the coarse textures of the greens could be broken down. Once ready, it’s served with cornbread as a side to dinner.
If “coarse textures” scared you and you’re wondering why anyone would want to make this, I answer you…tradition (and yumminess). At its origin are slaves who came to the south and who were forced to get creative to feed their families. They brought with them a typical cooking method of boiling down greens in a gravy and drinking the juices and applied it to a new variety. Since that time, drinking the juices has been called “pot likking” and is part of that cure-all mentioned early. Some even joke that if you can’t handle pot likking you’re not a true southerner! As a side note though, this dish is full of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, and fibers) and it will help detox your body. Whether you’re looking for that or it’s an unintended consequence, be aware!
What do you think? Are you ready to give it a shot? What if I told you that if you eat them New Year’s day you might end up with a better year ahead than otherwise? According to folklore, eating black eyed peas and collard greens with pork and corn bread symbolizes wealth and prosperity. I bet you’re ready to eat them now, aren’t you!?
Preserving Their Goodness
Let’s talk about pressure canning them. With a few tips and tricks and a scrumptious recipe from me, you will have jars and jars of this traditional side-dish at your beckon call. One important tip to remember is that the greens will cook down, so you’ll need significantly more than you think a person could eat raw.
Here is a recipe from my new cookbook, The Complete Guide to Pressure Caning: Everything You Need to Know to Can Meats, Vegetables, Meals in a Jar and More, giving you an authentic flavor and use for your greens. Enjoy~
Southern Collard Greens
Yield: Approx. 4 quarts or 8 pints
Prep Time: 20 min / Cook Time: 10 min / Canner Time: 60 min / Processing Time: 90 min/75 min / Total Time: 180 min/165 min
These are my favorite greens of all time! I will often wind up with a quart less for my pantry because I keep one in the kitchen to enjoy the very next day. Serve these delicious mixed greens alongside fried chicken or breaded pork chops. Be sure to whip up additional sides such as cornbread, black-eyed peas and creamy mac-n-cheese for a traditional Southern Meal.
12 cups water
2 smoked ham hocks
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ pound bacon
½ cup onion, chopped fine
14 pounds collard greens, untrimmed
4 pounds turnip greens, untrimmed
- In a stainless steel stock pot, combine water, ham hocks, salt, pepper, garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once at a boil, reduce heat and simmer on low.
- Slice bacon into 1” strips then place in skillet on medium heat. Add onion and mix well. Cook mixture for 5-8 minutes or until onions are translucent. Scrape everything into stock pot and continue to simmer.
- Wash greens thoroughly. Remove stem from leaf by holding the leaf in one hand and stripping the leaf with the other. You may also use a paring knife if easier.
- Once all leaves are removed, stack 8 to 10 leaves atop each other, roll and slice into ½” thick slices.
- Remove ham hocks and add cut greens to stock pot and mix well. Remove from heat. Using tongs, hot pack greens into jars leaving 1” head space. Using a slotted spoon, be sure to evenly disperse any remaining bits of meat and onion into the jars tamping down to keep the required head space. Ladle hot ham hock liquid atop greens keeping the 1” head space.
- Wipe each rim with a warm wash cloth dipped in vinegar. Place lid and rings on each jar and hand tighten.
- Place jars in pressure canner, lock the pressure canner lid and bring to a boil on high heat. Let canner vent for 10 minutes. Close vent and continue heating to achieve 11 psi for a dial gauge and 10 psi for a weighted gauge. Process pint jars for 75 minutes and quart jars for 90 minutes.
Ingredient Tip: If ham hocks aren’t readily available, feel free to substitute water with 12 cups of chicken stock. Also, if you prefer a bit more heat to your greens, feel free to double the red pepper flakes.
Are you feeling even a little bit curious? A little more brave? Be sure to check out this and other fun pressure canning recipes here and let us know what you think, and if you’re a pot likkin’ true southerner!
Diane, The Canning Diva®
Photo Credit: Feature Image, Brent Hofacker; Content Image, Joshua Resnick