Collard greens may look difficult to store, but there is an excellent way to not only store them for longer but also save space by compacting the greens.
Can you freeze cooked collard greens? Yes, collard greens can be frozen for up to 6–8 months — they can even be stored for up to one year if they are kept properly. To freeze them, blanch the vegetables in hot water for a couple of minutes, then cool off the cooked collard greens and seal them in appropriately sized containers.
Read below to learn how to store cooked collard greens, how to cook them properly, and some great tips and tricks!
How To Blanch Collard Greens
Collard greens are a cool-season crop that is available all year round.
Many people infer that since the crop itself can withstand environmental frost during the cooler seasons, it freezes well in the kitchen too — but this is largely incorrect!
Even though collard greens can resist frost and thrive in cooler conditions, there are limits to how much the plant can take when it comes to freezing temperatures and the duration of these conditions.
Also, most plants will require prior processing before they are stored in the freezer. You can’t just store dry leaves and expect them to freeze well!
Directly freezing the leaves will result in them losing their texture and flavor. They will also crumble and become unsuitable for cooking as they thaw.
This is why we need to first cook the greens, or rather, blanch them first!
Here’s how to blanch collard greens:
- Thoroughly clean the collard greens to remove any debris or dirt from them. We recommend that you rinse them at least twice for a better cooking experience.
- Once clean, put them over a dry towel and let them dry. Do not press down on them with a paper towel. You don’t have to dry them!
- Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil. Do not season the pot or add any oil or flavorings to it.
- When the water comes to a boil, add the leaves in batches. You can also add one handful at a time. Cook each batch of collard greens for about 2–3 minutes, then remove them and place the cooked greens on a dry paper towel to drain the excess moisture.
- Repeat this step for the rest of the collard greens until you have blanched all the leaves properly!
How To Freeze Blanched Collard Greens
When it comes to storing the blanched collard greens in the freezer, you can use two common methods:
- Ziploc Bags
- Airtight Containers
In optimal conditions, the collard greens will remain fresh for up to 3–6 months at 0°F. The collard greens will have the same storage duration in both methods!
1. Ziploc Bag Method
The Ziploc method is ideal for people who have limited storage space. The advantage of this method is that you can neatly stack the leaves and even lightly compress them to fit more packs over each other!
The disadvantage here is that compressing the greens too much may affect their texture as they thaw.
For the best results, we recommend that you store the greens in 2–3 piles in the freezer — this way the bottom bag won’t take on as much pressure.
Here are a few detailed steps on how to store blanched collard greens in a Ziploc bag:
- Shift the greens to an airtight and freezer-safe Ziploc bag. Fill as much as you can comfortably fit inside the bag. Do not overfill the bag!
- Seal the bag, but leave a little bit of the opening unsealed — this is to release excess air.
- Hold the bag from the top corners and gently nudge it so that the leaves can fill up any space.
- Once the leaves have collected at the bottom, lay the bag on an even surface and then press down on the empty area just above the leaves and push up. This step will remove excess air from the bag.
- Seal the bag completely and then repeat this step with additional bags until you have stored all the blanched greens.
- Label the bags with the storage date and store them in 2–3 stacks (or as required).
- Try to store the bags at the back of the freezer so that the collard greens are safe from temperature discrepancies.
2. Airtight Container Method
Airtight containers may take up more space, but they will ensure that the collard greens do not experience too much pressure from other freezer items.
Here is how you can store collard green in separate airtight containers:
- Move the cooked greens to appropriately sized airtight containers. Make sure that the containers are freezer safe.
- Tightly pack the containers to fit all the greens. You will use the same strategy as above! Tightly packing the leaves will ensure that there is no trapped air within the pieces.
- Once full, seal the top and label the containers with the current date.
- Repeat the step above for the rest of the leftover greens. When you have stored all the collard greens in containers, store them in the back of the freezer.
Tips And Tricks For Freezing Collard Greens
- When freezing collard greens, it is helpful if you plan the portions accordingly. This way you won’t have to deal with waste and you will know exactly how much you will get after blanching them.
- While it is rare for properly stored collard greens to go bad, you should still make a habit of checking the quality and freshness of the frozen leaves to ensure that they haven’t spoiled.
- Incorrectly storing the collard greens may result in a mushy texture and a stale flavor. This usually indicates a problem with your freezer. It can also happen when the leaves aren’t stored in an airtight environment.
- Collard greens can develop freezer burn! When this happens, there is no way to salvage the vegetable. Always remove excess moisture and air when storing the leafy green to prevent freezer burn. We recommend using a no-frost freezer for an even better experience.
- To save space, you can cut the collard greens using a knife or a scissor. You can either do this before blanching the vegetables or after you have cooked them.
How To Thaw Collard Greens
Frozen and cooked collard greens are very easy to thaw and will usually take about 5–10 minutes depending on the type of thawing method you go with.
Here are the best ways to thaw collard greens:
- Microwave Method
- Fridge Defrosting Method
- Pan Method
1. Microwave Method
The microwave method is the easiest and works very well if you froze the collard greens in an airtight container.
As a precaution, please make sure that the storage container is microwave-safe before going ahead.
To defrost, just remove the lid and set the microwave on the defrost setting. For Ziploc-bag stored greens, simply take the leaves out of the bag and heat them on a microwave-safe plate.
Defrost the collard greens for about 2–3 minutes and check for doneness. Keep adding for 2 minutes until the leaves are adequately defrosted. Then simply use them as required!
2. Fridge Defrosting Method
This method is perfect for people who aren’t in a hurry to cook — and it is probably the best method for preserving the flavor and texture of the leaves!
Simply move the bag or container from the freezer and store it in the fridge. The leaves will defrost naturally overnight and you should have perfectly fresh collard greens after 12–24 hours.
3. Pan Method
This method is suitable for people who want to save time and just cook the leaves directly.
For this method, heat a pan and add a bit of water and wait until the water comes to a boil. Put the frozen leaves directly in the pan and let them cook for a few minutes. You can also put a lid over them to encourage steam.
Occasionally move the leaves around using a spoon — once they are defrosted, you can continue cooking them as usual.
How Long Collard Greens Last In The Fridge
Cooked collard greens will last about 3–4 days or up to a week with optimal storage conditions. You can store the cooked leaves in either Ziploc bags or airtight storage containers.
Cooked leaves must ideally be consumed within 1–2 days for the best flavor. If you are storing collard green for more than 5 days, we highly recommend that you check their texture and look for signs of spoilage before consuming them.
Storing fresh collard greens is much easier and doesn’t require a lot of prior preparation. Just move the leaves to a dry container or Ziploc bag and store them at the back of the fridge at 40°F for up to 4–5 days.
Do not rinse the leaves before storing them in the fridge! Keep moisture away from the leaves when storing for the short term.
Now that you know how to freeze blanched collard greens, here are some related questions!
Can you add salt to collard greens as they cook?
No, you should not season the collard greens as they blanch or when you store them — the salt will affect their texture and may also alter their flavor once they thaw.
Can you refreeze collard greens?
No, once the collard greens are defrosted, you should consume them right away. Avoid refreezing the leaves to prevent them from spoiling!