Collards are a year-round favorite in Carolina Tobacco Country. Each season produces a different flavor and texture. They are not a boring vegetable for they do not always taste the same.
Summer collards are tougher and require more cooking time. Though they may be put in at the same time as the meat, and cooked just as long, the are still a bit crunchy when served.
On the other hand, winter collards are tender after they are kissed by frost and require only 30 minutes of cooking. They are naturally sweet and certain to appear on the table at Thanksgiving and Christmas along with baked sweet potatoes.
They withstand all but the very hardest freezes, and even the stalks where the winter collards were cut off sprout again in the spring giving yet a different flavor. They are tender and are served with sliced green onions and vinegar. Summer collards are good with fresh, hot green pepper chopped in them, sliced tomatoes, stew fried corn made from corn just out of the corn patch.
Collards are cooked very much like rutabagas and other vegetables but require more meat to season them and must not be crowded in the pot. Tender collards are put in the pot when the meat is almost done, while though ones are put in with meat.
There is just a bit of "know-how" required in cooking a good "mess" of collards. Some people like to add a little sugar to them while others do not. Corn dumplings are good with them no matter what the season. Even though dumplings may be cooked with the collards, fried corn bread usually accompanies the meal also.
2 lbs. collards1 to 2 lbs meat, (smoked or unsmoked) depending on the fatness
Salt to taste (may not require salt if your meat is very salty)
Water to cover collards well after they are wilted
Look collards well for vermin and bad spots to remove. Wash in several waters, if needed. Put summer collards in with the meat, accouding to their tenderness. Winter collards are put in after the meat tenders. Use your won judgement. Cook until done. Peeled potatoes and corn meal dumplings may be added abut 30 minutes before collards are done.
When done, take up potatoes and dumplings and lift collards out of pot liquor. Drain collards well and put in a bowl. Chop with hand chopper, or with a knife in each hand, cut through collards simultaneously until collards are chopped well. Drain again. Then, with a big spoon, scoop some of the fat off the top of the pot liquor and mix in with the collards.