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Native to Eastern Europe and Asia Minor, collards belong to the cabbage family and actually descended from wild cabbage. Collards have been domesticated for thousands of years, although relatively unknown in the United States until African American families incorporated their ethnic tradition of collards into Southern culture.
The amazing high levels of fiber, antioxidants, folate, magnesium, iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, thiamine, niacin, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A, B-6, C, E and K in collards are known to improve bone health, balance blood sugar, prevent heart disease and heal the liver. Collard greens have potent properties that kill viruses and bacteria, along with choline, which strengthens muscles, reduces inflammation and auto-immune disease, fights depression, and also improves sleep, learning, and memory.
Both the stalks and large green leaves can be eaten, either raw in salads, slaw and juices, or used in soups, stews, roasted as chips or as a side dish. Collards are best known in the South, especially served as ‘soul food’ where they are boiled with lots of ham or bacon pieces, onion and salt in the Southern tradition of using lots of fat and seasonings. The flower blooms are also edible, although once the plant blooms, the nutritional quality of the leaves is decreased. Be careful not to overcook collards when boiling, as this will decrease flavor.
A biennial plant, collard leaves become sweeter and more tender when they experience frost. Plant your St. Clare Heirloom collards seeds early in the Spring, about 6 to 8 weeks before the last frost and during the Summer from mid-June to mid-July, followed by a harvest 6 to 8 weeks later.
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