How Long Can Uncooked Collard Greens Sit Out? [We Have The Answer]

Collard greens are a staple of soul food. We love them simmered with neckbones or bacon. They make an excellent side for pork chops. You bought some at the store and were going to make them.

But you got distracted, and your collard greens were left out. How long can uncooked collard greens sit out before going bad?

The USDA says that 2 hours is the limit for collard greens to sit out at room temp. This rule applies to both uncooked and cooked collard greens. After the 2 hour mark, the food moves into the Danger Zone.

This is the temperature area between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 ˚F. Once food sits in the Danger Zone, it becomes a high risk for harmful bacterial growth. 

What Happens In The Danger Zone?

Food that sits in the Danger Zone becomes an environment that helps bacteria multiply. Not all bacteria are harmful, but many are, and they love the Danger Zone.

When you eat food riddled with these bacteria, you risk foodborne illness, which can be severe. Food poisoning can leave you laid up for weeks or put you in the hospital. 

What Are Collard Greens?

Collard greens are a vegetable from the cabbage family. They grow to be big and leafy. Many people in the southern region of the United States have made this green a staple in their diet.

It’s in this area of the world where you’ll find the best methods for tasty greens that aren’t bitter or tough. But we’ll get to that later.  


Leafy greens are known to be fantastic for our health. They offer a bevy of health advantages. Collard greens, in particular, provide the following benefits. 

  1. Vitamin A
  2. Vitamin B
  3. Vitamin C
  4. Healthy bones
  5. Prevents diseases
  6. Boost in immunity

The Best Way To Store Uncooked Collard Greens

When you bring your collard greens home from the store, they should already be in a plastic bag.

Are they in a sealed bag or one that you pulled off the roll? If the container is sealed, leave it that way until you’re ready to prepare those greens.

If the bag is open, put a dry paper towel in the bag to grab any moisture. Store your uncooked collard greens in the fridge. Uncooked collard greens will last five days in the fridge.

Should I Wash Raw Collard Greens Before Storing Them?

No. Bacteria grow in moisture, so adding more will speed up the decay process. Keep your greens unwashed and in the original packaging until you’re ready to use them.

If the bag is open, don’t forget to insert a piece of clean, dry paper towel. This goes for all greens. Don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them. 

Eating Raw Collard Greens

Some people think that stewed is the only way to eat collard greens. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Raw collard greens make a great addition to salads and are healthy for you. There are conflicting reports, but many believe cooking kills some of the nutrients in greens.

Others say that cooking collard greens will break down the cell wall and supply more nutrients.

Whether you eat them raw or cooked, collard greens are a fantastic decision. They taste amazing and are healthy. 

The Best Way To Wash Greens

When it comes to washing greens of any kind, it’s best to make sure they are separated and cut first. Greens should soak for a minute because they can hold onto dirt.

The smaller they are, the easier they are to wash. If you buy them already cut, then skip the next part. 

How To Cut Collard Greens

Stack your greens on top of each other and roll them from one side to another. Kind of like you’re rolling sushi.

Don’t roll them from tip to stalk. Make sure it’s side to side, so they come out evenly in strips. 

collard greens

Start at one end and cut them into thin strips. Put them in a bowl for washing.

Now Wash

Once they’re chopped, put the greens in a bowl. Take that bowl and fill it three quarters with cold water.

Then add white vinegar until the bowl is full. Let the greens sit in the water/vinegar mixture for a bit and move them around.

This is to make sure each leaf gets a good cleansing. Our method works for all your leafy greens, including spinach and kale. 

Take the greens out of the water and let them sit in a colander. Use a salad strainer or let them drain naturally for ten minutes or so. You can lay them out on paper towels.

The key is that you let them dry and then cook them. Use the paper towel trick if you have to put washed, uncooked collard greens in the fridge. 

The Best Way To Cook Collard Greens


Cut and wash collard greens – one bunch

Two cloves of garlic chopped

½ pound of bacon or ¼ pound of salt pork

Small yellow onion chopped

3-4 cups of water or chicken stock. Or a mix of both.

2-3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Salt and pepper

Tip: If you’re a vegetarian, you can sub veggie broth and eliminate the meat. Add another clove of garlic and more onion for flavor. 

First, brown the meat. If you aren’t using meat, eliminate this. Once the meat is brown, remove it. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and onion. Let the onion coof for a minute.

Add the garlic. Let that cook for a minute. Then put the meat back in. 

Add the greens and let it all saute for a minute. Add the apple cider vinegar and stir. Then top it with water or broth and let it stew until the greens are soft. 

How Long Can Cooked Collard Greens Sit Out At Room Temperature?

Now that your greens are cooked far above the 140˚F Danger Zone, are they safe to sit out? They are, but only for the 2 hours, that’s been set as a food safety standard by the FDA.

When foods move into the Danger Zone, the risk of contracting harmful toxins grows. These bacteria can cause a myriad of foodborne illnesses. 

Food poisoning can be mild, but it can also be severe. One common symptom is abdominal pain, but it can get worse.

Some infected people have suffered severe dehydration and required a hospital stay. Don’t risk it. When the 2-hour mark approaches, store it correctly.

The Best Way To Store Cooked Collard Greens

Once your greens are prepared, the storing method changes. You should put them in an airtight container and seal them well. Then they go in the fridge with all the other perishable foods.

That way, you know it has a few days to be eaten. Greens that have been in the fridge for longer than four days should be thrown away. 

cooked collard greens

While the Danger Zone is the perfect climate for bacterial growth, toxins can affect food even when it’s in the fridge. The process is slower, which is why you have days as opposed to hours. The perfect fridge temperature is just below 40˚F.

Can I Freeze Collard Greens?

Yes. You could freeze both cooked and uncooked collard greens if you made too much. But there are different methods for both. We break it down for you below. 


We said it’s a bad idea to wash greens before cooking them. But, if you want to freeze raw collards, they have to be cleaned.

Follow our instructions above on cutting and washing collard greens, and then you can go from there. Before you start cutting and washing, put a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a boil. 

Once you’ve washed and cut your greens, put them aside. Get a bowl and fill it with ice and water.

Once you have the ice water ready, throw your greens in the boiling water. This is called blanching them. Let them boil for three minutes. Strain them and submerge them into the ice water immediately. 

Greens, and all other foods, will continue to cook once removed from their heat source. Submerging them in cold water will stop that process. Strain them well and let them dry well, so they don’t get freezer burn. 

Put your blanched greens into airtight containers and store them in the freezer. They’ll last in the freezer for up to a year.

You don’t even have to defrost them before cooking. They’ll come out best when cooked frozen. 


Collard greens that have already been sauteed with meat or onions will have to be stored in an airtight container as well. There’s just no need to blanch them first. Once frozen, your cooked greens will also last up to a year.

Cooked greens are at a higher risk for freezer burn because it thrives on moisture. It’s always a good idea to date food you put in the freezer as well. This way, you know how long you have to use it before it loses flavor and consistency. 

Final Verdict

Southern collard greens are a great addition to any diet. They’re healthy, tasty, and go with any main dish. Heck, you can make them the main course if you like. That’s how delicious they are. 

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