Georgia Cooks: Christmas Trees
Christmas trees aren't the only things green that are in season. You can find a good selection of collards, mustard and turnip greens and other leafy greens at local farms, farmers markets and grocery stores. It's been a good year for them in Georgia.
Grown statewide and available virtually year-round, the largest volume of greens is harvested in Georgia from late December through March.
Greens Are Good for You
Whether eaten raw in salads or cooked, greens are nutritious. Most leafy green vegetables are a good source of the antioxidant vitamins, A, C and E, and they also contain calcium, iron, fiber and other important nutrients. Greens are a source of folic acid and are low in calories, fat and sodium.
Fresh Mustard Greens
1 ½ cups (3 oz.) (85 g)
Varieties of Greens
Although similar in nutrition content, the different varieties of greens vary in appearance:
- Collard greens feature wide leaves with a cabbage-like flavor.
- Mustard greens feature oval-shaped leaves with frilled or scalloped edges and have a sharp taste.
- Turnip greens feature thin, dark green leaves that provide a distinct but pleasant bite when eaten.
A Guide to Greens
- When selecting greens, look for leaves that are fresh, young, tender and free from blemishes.
- Choose greens whose leaves are a healthy color.
- Avoid greens whose leaves have course, fibrous stems; also, avoid greens whose leaves show signs of softness, decay, wilting or insects, or are yellow-green in color.
- Mustard greens can have a slight bronze tint or be light green.
- Most greens can be stored for up to two weeks. To maintain quality, store greens in a plastic bag in the refrigerator’s vegetable crisper.
- The young, tender leaves of most greens can be used for salads, while the older, but still tender leaves are good for cooking.
- In the South, collard greens and mustard greens traditionally are cooked for several hours; however, turnip and mustard greens do not have to be cooked that long in order to be done. Cooking time will depend on one’s individual taste and may need to be adjusted depending on whether greens are cooked whole or chopped.
- Try cooking turnip greens only until crisp-tender, in as little boiling water as will keep them from sticking, for 20 to 25 minutes; cook mustard greens in a covered pan with a little water for 15 to 20 minutes.
- The following method will help preserve the green color of turnip greens. When cooking, cover the boiling greens for about a minute, just long enough to wilt and compact them. Then remove the cover for a minute to let the vapors escape. Repeat several times while cooking.
Ways to Enjoy Greens
- Serve greens with cornbread to dip in the juice for a traditional Southern favorite dish.
- Use chopped greens to provide a finishing touch for stuffing or rice.
- Use fresh greens as a garnish to add color to any meal.
- Add chopped greens to soups and stews for hearty, flavorful dishes.
From the Georgia Department of Agriculture Farmers And Consumers Market Bulletin