Collard Greens: Garden to Freezer

Dark green leafy balls 4 inches in diameter stacked in a pyramid with a 2 inch troll doll reclined on the top. The doll has 3 inches of poufy neon orange hair.
Photo Caption: Final product, 2 ounce collard balls, Wilson for scale.

What to do with collard greens from the garden or grocery

Location: SPRING, TX

I am grateful for collards. Thank you, collards. If you are lucky enough to have collards to eat, enjoy them.  This post is my method for taking the leaves from garden to the freezer to your mouth every morning for an Okra Garden Supply breakfast.  Alternatively, the greens can be easily added into many different dishes.  The basic steps are:

  1. Rinse
  2. Remove stems
  3. Chop
  4. Cook
  5. Freeze
  6. Warm
  7. Eat

Simple enough, but, when you are up to your eye balls in collards it is good to have a plan with details.  Mine is below.  Enjoy.

Green canvas basket with aluminum rim on a kitchen counter. Basket is overflowing with Klein Collard Greens.
Photo Caption: Fresh from the garden.

Bring the greens in from the garden

My stack of green.  Harvest was 8 pounds.

Pile of collard greens on the kitchen counter. The stack fills the counter.
Photo Caption: Collard greens ready to rip and wash.

Clean the Greens

A two basin sink with greens floating in both sinks. On the counter next to the sinks is a pile of stems.
Photo Caption: Two sinks and pile of stems. Sink two is in the foreground of the photo. This sink has leaves with stems removed. Sink one has whole leaves. Pile of stems on the counter ready to go to the compost.

This method uses double sinks. If you don’t have double sinks just substitute a large bowl for sink 2. Also, you really should start with clean sinks and counters. Sorry.

Goal: Remove large stem in the center of each leaf and rinse off dirt and insects.

Terminology: The most accurate description of this part of the collard anatomy is primary vein and that is the term I will use below.
Woman with side ponytail holding a collard leaf. The photo has been edited to highlight the strong white vein in the center of the leaf that is the primary vein.
Photo Caption: Lisa With Collard Leaf Annotated with Primary Vein. Note the snazzy gloves!

Wash and Remove Primary Vein from Leaves

  1. Plug sink 1.
  2. Turn water on low.
  3. Put all collards in sink 1.
  4. Take a leaf and fold it in 1/2 along the primary vein.
  5. Rip the leaf from the primary vein. The portion of the primary vein that is highlighted in the photo is what I would aim to remove.  Once the primary vein is less than 3 mm wide it will cook evenly with the rest of the leaf.  The reason to remove the primary vein is because it is tough and unpalatable.
  6. Place the leafy material in sink 2 and put the vein in a pile on the counter.
  7. When sink one has enough water that the leaves move freely, switch the water to sink two and continue removing primary veins.
  8. When sink 2 has enough water that the leaves can move freely turn off water.
  9. Are there any leaves with primary veins remaining in sink 1?  If so continue to remove primary veins until finished. Also check for bugs and remove any yellow, or unattractive slimy parts.
  10. Once all primary veins are removed unplug sink 1 and take the stems out to the compost.
  11. Clean sink one and fill with enough water for the greens to float freely.
  12. Transfer the greens from sink 2 to sink 1 and stir around.
  13. Drain sink 2.
  14. Is there dirt?  If so, clean sink 2 and fill with enough water for the greens to float freely and move the greens from sink 1 to sink 2.
  15. Drain sink 1.
  16. Is there dirt?  If so, clean sink 1 and fill with enough water for the greens to float freely and move the greens from sink 2 to sink 1.
  17. Repeat moving the greens back and forth until there isn’t any more dirt in sink. It is sort of a pain but gritty greens are not appetizing and grit will erode your teeth.

At this point I usually will go for a sip of tea and little stretch.  Then you need to clean your counters and make a nice clean spot to cut the greens.

Cut the Greens

  1. Reach into your sink full of water and greens and grab a handful greens. Roll the greens into a log.  Some recommend building a tidy stack and then rolling, but I don’t.  Just grab and roll. The leaves can crinkle and go in different directions.  The goal is to have a cylinder of greens about the size of a 1 lb salami.
  2. Slice the roll into one centimeter thick slices. This will make ribbons that cook evenly and are easy to eat. If stray bits of leaf escape the roll, just cut them into centimeter thick slices. See video below and then subscribe to my YouTube Channel.
  3. Place collard ribbons in a large bowl.

I feel like it is only fair to say that I did not invent the idea of rolling and slicing greens.  It seems that the French did and it is called, Chiffonade.  In my mind it isn’t really fair to call my method Chiffonade as I take a fairly informal and rustic approach.  Here is a pretty sweet video that my husband took.

Chiffonade VIDEO

Store Collard Ribbons in Refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Estimate how much greens you will eat in three days and put those in the refrigerator crisper. The remaining harvest can be preserved and prepared for future use

Preserving Collard Greens – cook then freeze

Instant pot filled with green Klein Collards, A large stainless steel bowl filled with collard green ribbons, a colander in a glass bowl with leaves draining. All on counter.
Photo Caption: Collard ribbons, a too full Instant Pot, and steamed greens draining.

Pop culture warning, Instant Pot recipe below.  It is 2017, I am a blogger, and this is a post about food, obviously it includes the instant pot.  Why?  Because pressure cooking collard greens results in the most tasty tasty tasty tasty tasty tasty tender collards I have ever experienced.  If you don’t have an instant pot, boiling works fine as well to cook the collards prior to freezing.

  1. Put a steamer tray in the instant pot. The rack that comes with the Instant Pot won’t work well, I used a metal collapsible steamer with silicon feet.
  2. Add 1.5 cups water.
  3. Fill Instant Pot with Collard Greens to “Max Fill” line.
  4. Close lid and steam for 4 min – you might try as little as two minutes depending on your taste.
  5. Use the quick steam release
  6. Scoop collards into a colander in a bowl. No need to remove Instant Pot insert but you may need to remove the steamer to get all the collards out.
  7. Fill the Instant Pot with raw collards again if you still have more to cook.


Glass 9 by 13 inch pyrex baking dish with 15 balls of collard greens. The balls are in a three by 15 grid. Glass is white with frost.
Photo Caption: Pan of collard balls after they have been frozen overnight.
  1. While the next batch cooks, toss the cooked collards a bit to cool them down, or you could rinse. As soon as they are ready to handle I measure them into a 50 gram portion using tongs and a scale.  Then I put the greens on the lid of my Pyrex 9 x 11 inch pan and gently squeeze into a ball.  Then I place the ball in the 9 x 11 Pyrex dish.
  2. Continue until the dish is full, 12 balls. Put the lid on and freeze overnight.
  3. Use additional pans and/or trays as necessary.


Glass 9 by 13 inch pyrex baking dish with 15 balls of collard greens. The balls are in a three by 15 grid. Glass is white with frost.
Photo Caption: Place the collard balls in a bag for storage.

Once balls are frozen they can be put into a plastic zip lock bag for easier freezer storage. They will hold their shape fairly well if handled gently.

Okra Garden Supply Breakfast.

Our recipes don’t taste good, they feel good

8 smaller photos with arrows between them showing the steps in making the Egg and Collard Greens Recipe.
Photo Caption: Egg and Collard Greens Recipe Steps

Recipe Title: Egg and Collard Greens

This recipe is the best way to easily, quickly, and inexpensively incorporate collard greens into your diet.  And this recipe only has 93 calories but provides over 50% of your daily dose of Vitamin A and 30% of Vitamin C.  Eat your greens and be strong!

  1. Use the trivet included with the Instant Pot and add 1 ½ cups water to Instant Pot.
  2. Grease one ramekin with butter and add an egg.
  3. Place one frozen collard ball in another ramekin.
  4. Place both ramekins on the trivet and use the steam function for two minutes
  5. I like to wait a few minutes before releasing, in the example for the photo below I waited 4 minutes
  6. Release steam, open lid, use oven mit to take ramekins out of Instant Pot
  7. Dump collards in serving bowl, the inside of the ball may still be a little cold depending on how long you left it in the Instant Pot, but just squish the collards around and it will be fine.
  8. Use a fork to separate the egg from the edge of the ramekin and dump it on top of the collards. Add salt and pepper and eat.
  9. No, it doesn’t taste great. But, it is excellent for your health.  Just eat it up and you will feel terrific!
  10. Dishes, the best part is that this creates very few dishes. This is the CLEANEST AND HEALTHIEST WAY TO COOK AN EGG.  Sorry for the caps but I have been looking for a no hassle way to cook eggs, and this is it!  Eggs cooked with this method have many potential uses.  Look how clean that ramekin is.  Yay!


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Best Way To Eat Collard Greens