A Side of Collard Greens Is a Hero to Many Dishes — but First You Must Clean Them

Collard greens are a cultivated plant crop related to cabbage and broccoli. These veggies have been enjoyed since the 8th century.

Jamie Bichelman - Author

Apr. 18 2024, Published 12:24 p.m. ET

A woman wearing a blue shirt washes collard greens in a kitchen sink.
Source: iStock

To enjoy the amazing nutritional benefits, cultural significance, and delicious taste of collard greens, you must first know how to safely clean your produce to limit your family's exposure to any harmful pesticides that may be lingering.

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Before you prepare the requisite spices and other creative ingredients to transform your collard greens — especially if it isn't organic — it's important to ensure their cleanliness. We've got all you need to know the next time you pass by these delicious greens in the grocery aisle and get inspired for your next meal.

A person washes collard greens in a kitchen sink.
Source: iStock
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Here's how to clean collard greens.

As Evolving Table suggests, any negative reputation associated with collard greens is likely due to the chef's failure to clean and prepare the delicious leafy greens adequately. According to the website, collard greens should be soaked in a sink or bowl filled with water before being rinsed to ensure any remaining dirt has been washed away.

Evolving Table also suggests an optional step of adding a bit of vinegar to the soak.

As NPR notes, washing your veggies with vinegar kills a significant amount of bacteria. If your collard greens taste bitter or have an unappetizing texture, keep reading to learn more tips to clean your greens.

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Southern Living's YouTube channel explains that you should first rinse the collard greens to rid them of lingering soil. Then, they should be submerged in a large bowl of cold water.

Southern Living also recommends stirring the greens in the bowl with a wooden spoon to help loosen any extra dirt. Regardless of the optional steps you choose to incorporate, it's essential to blot your collard greens with a paper towel after being rinsed to rid them of excess moisture.

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A person wearing a blue shirt prepares a bunch of collard greens with a large chef's knife.
Source: iStock

Here's how to prepare collard greens in a slow cooker or Instant Pot.

Slow cookers and Instant Pots are having a day in plant-based recipes, and for good reason. These kitchen appliances are extremely useful for busy foodies, and they're often quite forgiving, not to mention extremely useful at bolstering the flavor of various dishes.

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In this vegan Instant Pot recipe from Cozy Peach Kitchen, the mix of vegetable broth, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and liquid smoke offers a delectable concoction of different flavor profiles. While the blog suggests brown sugar, be sure to use organic sugar for a touch of sweetness that doesn't involve animal byproducts.

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I'm a huge fan of this amazing recipe from ICanYouCanVegan. It blends a euphoric mix of red pepper flakes, paprika, salt, and pepper with onion and garlic simmered in olive oil. As the blogger and YouTuber explains, the liquid smoke approximates the flavor that meat would typically bring to the dish without needless animal suffering.

In this slow cooker recipe from It’s a Veg World After All, the inclusion of maple syrup is my absolute favorite idea to add the necessary touch of sweetness without the sugar, which balances out the apple cider vinegar and spices.

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