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Fresh Collards (Updated)

Recipe and photography by Bev Davis.


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Posted November 9, 2017

EDITOR'S NOTE (December 27, 2017):  Updated the helpful silent video .  Added clip of stalk being torn from each leaf.  This is important because thick stalks are bitter.  Collard greens taste delicious without them.  Also revised text for clarity.  Video posted below recipe.

After sharing a recipe/photo in November on social media, I was surprised to hear from individuals who never heard of collard greens. Many wanted to know more.  They inspired me to create a helpful video (posted below recipe).   Collard greens are a member of the Brassica family. Closely related to kale and mustard greens. Peak season is January through April. Available in the produce section of most grocery stores and Farmers Markets. Many believe eating collards on New Year's Day will attract "paper money" all year. 

These collards are well seasoned and easily doubled.  If desired, cook longer,  and add more seasonings.  Good to the last bite.   Whenever I cook fresh collards for friends/family, there are none left.  It Sometimes, I'll cook and refrigerate over night in a lidded container to allow collards to marinate in the seasonings.  This makes them taste better the next day. Enjoy!


2 bunches of fresh collard greens

1-1/2 cups chopped ham hocks, ham bones, 

        OR 3 smoked turkey necks  

1/4 cup bacon drippings OR olive oil (optional)

6 tablespoons Liquid Smoke, divided

2 tablespoons sugar (optional)*

water for boiling

salt and ground black pepper to taste

pepper sauce (optional)


Cut stalks from end of each bunch.  Either tear or cut thick stalks from each leaf.  Discard stalks.  Thoroughly wash leaves in a clean sink filled with warm salt water.    Drain water.  Thoroughly rinse in clear warm water.  Repeat.  This will remove debris from each leaf. 

Stack several leaves together.  Roll lengthwise.  Cut across roll in 1/2" sections.  Cut again down the middle to make bite sized pieces.  Repeat until all leaves are cut.  Set aside. 

Add ham hock, ham bones, OR smoked neck bones to a saucepan large enough to hold collards.  Use two saucepans if necessary.  Add bacon drippings OR olive oil, sugar (if using), 3 tablespoons of Liquid Smoke, and collards.  Cover with water.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 to 40 minutes OR until desired tenderness.  Add extra hot water to cover greens when it decreases before done. 

Season with salt and ground black pepper.  Taste.  Add remaining 3 tablespoons of Liquid Smoke if desired. Mix well.  Serve with pepper sauce (optional).  Makes 2 bunches.


Some collards are bitter.  Sugar solves the problem with a slight sweetness.  If preferred, add the sugar after cooking.  Below is a helpful video (silent) video for your viewing pleasure.