Nothing says Southern cooking like a big dish of collard greens. Most people love them sauteed with bacon or ham hocks, but these leafy greens are a delicious pairing to any meal no matter how you prepare them. Did you know that there are multiple different types of collard greens to cook with and grow?
The varieties of collard greens provide us with different flavors and textures, and finding your favorite kind is part of the fun of growing them. Even though there are a few different collard greens varieties, they all have common characteristics.
Collard leaves are recognizable for their dark green leaves that are firm enough to replace a tortilla for wraps but turn tender after cooking them over heat.
About Collard Greens Varieties
Besides what we call them in everyday life, collard greens are also referred to as Brassica oleracea var acephala. Brassicaceae plants have broad and tender leaves that are popular worldwide.
When thinking about mustard greens vs collard greens, collard greens have a slightly more bitter flavor than other similar plants, like turnip or mustard greens. If you haven’t tried different types of collard greens yet, this article goes over some plants with the most delicious flavors that are the easiest to grow.
They are biennial plants that lack a head, even though they are members of the cabbage family. The cultivars that we grow today are related to primitive cabbage types that come from the Mediterranean and date back as far as 2,000 years.
Over time, collard greens made their way over to the United States, and the green leaves eventually became a staple in southern cooking. They are identified by their green hues and oval-shaped, fibrous leaves. Their mild flavor is enjoyable when cooked or raw, similar to almost every variety of spinach.
Collard greens are a cool season crop and full of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They assist the body with calcium absorption, bone health, and cancer prevention. One serving of greens contains manganese, vitamin K, and folate.
If you haven’t tried different varieties of collard greens, you might consider adding them to your diet after learning about the advantages they bring to your health. It’s easy to follow the way to grow collard greens in a pot, raised bed, or garden.
Common Types of Collard Greens
Heirloom and hybrid varieties of greens have a long cultivation history. With collard greens vs kale, seeds are saved every year and passed on through generations. Over time, we have been left with delicious collard greens varieties to choose from.
This list has some of the most popular varieties of collard greens among home growers, and we think you’ll enjoy having them in your garden this growing season as well as different types of kale plants.
Favorite Varieties of Collard Greens: Georgia Southern
Georgia Southern collard greens are an heirloom cultivar and one of the most beloved of all home cooks. It is safe to plant this type in the early spring because their flavor improves with a little bit of light frost.
If you want another harvest of vegetables to grow even in November, sow some more in the summer for a second harvest in the late summer or early fall.
Georgia Southern collard greens have a mounding habitat and smoother leaf texture. They take about 65 days to mature and reach up to 36 inches tall. Once full-grown, they have juicy and blue-green leaves perfect for eating raw, canning, or freezing.
These types of collard greens are easy to care for. They do best in USDA hardiness zones six and higher. Growing cabbage from seed as well as collards is easy, and almost all garden centers have their seeds for sale.
Morris Heading Collard Greens
These collard greens varieties are unlike many others because they produce a loose head of leaves instead of all loose leaves. They are shorter in height and more compact than most other types.
These greens have an incredibly tender texture with medium-green and crumpled-looking leaves.
Morris Heading collard greens enjoy full sun and are suited for hardiness zones three through 12. They tolerate both heat and cold, so consider this variety if you live in northern regions.
Vates Collard Greens
Another of the collard greens varieties that thrive in both cold and warm weather is the Vates cultivar. Vates greens produce high yields, and their leaves are dark green and shiny with yellow stems.
They grow 34 inches tall and enjoy spreading, so make sure their spacing is further apart than with the other varieties of collard greens.
Vates is an open-pollinated variety, meaning they are resistant to bolting, disease, and frost. If any of your greens have had black rot over the years, try growing this type instead.
The Oldest Collard Greens
Green Glaze collard greens is one of the oldest varieties presently grown in North America. They have young, crisp leaves and are highly resistant to infestations in your garden beds. You might try growing these if your beds attract cabbage worms, aphids, or cabbage loopers.
Blue Max Collard Greens
If you enjoy canning a large batch of collard greens to store over the winter, the Blue Max collard greens are one of the varieties with impressive yields.
They produce 25 percent more than most other types of collard greens and grow quickly enough for you to fit in two harvests during the growing season.
Blue Max leaves are tender with a mild taste and have a beautiful blue-green color. They benefit from a layer of mulch on top of the soil to retain moisture. After all, they put in a lot of work to produce so many leaves throughout the spring and summer.
Cooking with Collard Greens
Pork and collard greens are a match made in heaven. There is a good reason why these two ingredients go together so well, and who are we to mess with perfection?
If you haven’t had collard greens before, this recipe is a traditional cooking method to please the entire family.
Wash the collard greens under cold water and remove the thick, fibrous stems. Put the bacon in a large, hot pot and cook for five minutes until crisp. Remove half of the cooked bacon from the pan and set it aside to use later.
Add the chopped onion to the hot pan and cook for about four minutes until they turn soft and translucent. Stir in the salt, pepper, and garlic and cook for another 30 seconds before stirring the trimmed greens into the pot.
Cook the collard greens until they start to wilt, and then pour in the broth. Turn the heat on the burner to low and simmer the greens covered for 30 minutes.
Uncover the pot and stir in the vinegar and hot sauce. Cook for another five minutes before pouring the collard greens into a serving bowl and topping them with the reserved bacon bits.
Collard greens make one of the most nutritious side dishes in American cooking. They are the perfect pairing to chicken, rice, or seafood and have a mild yet mouthwatering flavor.
Even if you’ve never grown your own collard greens before, they are well worth the effort and are a great replacement for less flavorful veggies like lettuce.
If reading about the different types of collard greens has encouraged you to change up the plants in your veggie garden, share these varieties of collard greens on Facebook and Pinterest.