Can You Freeze Cooked Collard Greens? [Plus Easy Cooking Instructions]

Traditional-cooked collard greens have always been a favorite in Southern cooking. However, over the years, they’ve gained popularity in my not-so-southern kitchen as well. The immune-boosting powerhouse vegetable is loaded with vitamins C, A, zinc, and calcium.

In addition, it has a rich, earthy flavor, making it a unique, delicious, and healthy side dish for your family dinner. But have you ever wondered if you can freeze cooked collard greens? Maybe you have some leftover cooked collard greens, or you want to plan for weeknight cooking. 

Generally speaking, you can freeze cooked collard greens. Freezing cooked collard greens is an excellent way to save time on weeknight cooking, and it’s easy and quick to do.

After washing, trimming, and chopping your collard greens, you can boil, steam, or saute them to make them more palatable. Then, drain any excess moisture and store your collard greens in shallow airtight containers or resealable plastic bags and freeze for later. 

It’s a shame that collard greens haven’t earned their place in kitchens all over the country, but the South has it right with this one. Not only are they delicious, but there are many great health reasons to incorporate collard greens into your diet. The versatile greens can help fight cancer, maintain healthy cholesterol levels, and are good for your liver and bone health. 

Why Should I Freeze My Cooked Collard Greens?

Not only can you freeze cooked collard greens, but it’s an excellent way to extend the life of your vegetables. Pre-cooking your collard greens will also save you time when you’re ready to use them, so you’ll thank yourself later on those busy school nights when you already have so much on your plate.

Not to mention that you know what goes into them when you cook the greens yourself. If you choose to boil or steam them, you don’t have to worry about excess additives or sodium going into your vegetables. 

Another benefit to pre-cooking collard greens is that it will reduce the amount of oxalic acid in the vegetable. Oxalic acid is a compound found in plant foods like leafy greens.

It can impede calcium absorption and increase the risk of kidney stones in some individuals, so it’s beneficial to make sure that you cook your greens for at least six minutes to overcome the absorption issue. 

Freezing vegetables is one of the best ways to store them because it locks in the essential vitamins and minerals. That way, you won’t lose much of the nutrition along the way. 

Cooked collard greens are a perfect addition to all sorts of dishes, including Southern-inspired soups and stews. Collard greens are hardy vegetables, and their thick leaves allow them to hold up well in the freezer after cooking.

Cooked Collard Greens

How To Cook And Freeze Collard Greens?

Freezing cooked collard greens is a simple process and doesn’t take much time at all. Follow the step-by-step process below for the best results. 

Step 1. Wash Your Greens 

The first step is to make sure your collard greens are free of dirt, sand, or bugs. Rinse them thoroughly under cold water, taking extra care along the ridges to remove any stuck-on dirt. If your collard greens are fresh from the garden, they may have some hitchhikers (i.e., insects), so inspect your batch and rinse off any critters that may be hiding in the leaves.

Step 2: Trim And Chop The Leaves 

Collard greens have big, fan-like leaves with a thick stem in the middle. The leaves are the edible part, but you will want to remove the stem. You can do this by slicing down either side of it, separating it from the leaf, and discarding it.

You can also strip the leaves from the stem using your hands. To chop, stack the leaves one on top of the other, roll them up, and slice them into half-inch pieces for cooking. 

Step 3: Cook The Collard Greens

The next step is choosing how you would like to cook your collard greens. If you plan to toss them into soups or stews, the best way to go about this is by boiling or steaming the collard greens, but you can also saute them. Olive oil freezes well too! 

Cooking times may vary depending on how well you want to cook your greens and the method you’re using. Steam time can be around 3-5 minutes, and boiling times can range from 15 minutes to three hours.

The good news is that it’s hard to overcook collard greens, so don’t worry about leaving them on the stovetop or in your crockpot. If you plan to cook them for some time after defrosting, you may also choose to shorten the cooking time here. The point is to allow the collard greens to become more palatable through the cooking process and lose some toughness.

Step 4: Drain And Cool

When freezing collard greens, one of the most important things is to ensure they are well-drained and that no moisture gets trapped in the freeze storage container. Excess water can cause ice crystals in the bags resulting in freezer burn. 

Place them in a colander and allow them to drain for a few minutes over the sink. If your collard greens have a lot of water on them after draining, squeeze them gently to remove as much water as possible. 

Step 5. Pack Them In Bags

The last step is to pack the cooked collard greens into resealable Ziploc freezer bags. Again, make sure to remove any excess air before sealing, and don’t forget to date the bag. 

How Long Can You Keep Cooked Collard Greens In The Freezer?

Cooked collard greens will stay good in the freezer for 12 months and possibly even longer. However, after 12 months, they will start to decline in quality. The same rules apply to most other green, leafy vegetables as well. 

How To Cook Frozen Collard Greens?

The best part about already having cooked collard greens in your freezer is the convenience. All you need to do is pull out the amount you need for your recipe and throw it into whatever you’re cooking, whether you’re sauteeing, simmering on the stovetop, or making a crockpot dinner.

No thawing is needed. If you have any leftovers, collard greens will stay good in the refrigerator for three to four days, but make sure to consume them within that timeframe for food safety reasons. 

Cooked collard greens are already soft enough to add to a soup and will heat up very quickly. Since it’s almost impossible to overcook them, you don’t have to worry about keeping them on the heat for too long. They can cook in a crockpot all day or over the stove for two to three hours. 

On the contrary, raw collard greens will take a bit longer to get to the point that they are soft and ready to enjoy. Therefore, if you’re cooking with raw collard greens, you will likely need to start cooking them first, then add the other ingredients as you go. 

What Can I Cook With Frozen Collard Greens?

Collard greens are so versatile, and you can enjoy many recipes when you have cooked collard greens on hand in the freezer. It’s easy to give all your standby recipes a Southern flare (without adding fat, calories, or sodium). Luckily collard greens pair well with any other vegetables, including onions, garlic, or tomatoes. Below are some great ideas on how to use up your frozen greens. 

1. Stews

Not many stews wouldn’t benefit from the addition of collard greens. The leafy greens are delicious thrown into a hearty beef stew with potatoes or sausage and white bean stew. Vegetarians can enjoy them in a vegetable stew with cauliflower or legumes. 

2. Soups

Collard greens hold up very well and are delicious in about any tomato-based vegetable soup. A famous soup to try with collard greens is ham and navy bean soup. Toss them in at any point in the cooking process to add some nutrition and color to your dish. soup

3. Egg Dishes

Saute them with vegetables and cook them with eggs to make an unexpected heart-healthy omelet, frittata, or quiche. 

4. Casseroles 

Casseroles are another great way to use up any leftover frozen, cooked collards. The greens pair deliciously well with cheese or cream and can bake into a gratin, a cornbread casserole, or even an egg casserole for brunch. 

As a food safety tip, make sure to refrigerate your cooked collard greens in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic or aluminum foil at least two hours after cooking to maintain freshness. 

Final Thoughts 

Not only can you freeze cooked collard greens, but it’s such a convenient way to make weeknight dinnertime less stressful and nutritious for you and your family. Having frozen vegetables on hand saves so much time that you might need to help with homework in the evenings or drive the kids to and from activities. 

Incorporating collard greens into your diet is a no-brainer due to all the health benefits for you and your family. You’re bound to feel good about this heart-healthy decision. 

Leave a Comment