Small discoveries

Sometimes small discoveries can have a huge impact. Here’s one: we like canned greens, and greens as served at restaurants and cafeterias. And we know that greens should be a staple in any Appalachian stalwart’s diet—long growing season, easy to grow, satisfying, good for you. Unfortunately, whenever we cooked fresh greens we hated them: bitter, pungent, overwhelming.

Puzzled but undaunted, we decided to try it again. We bought a bunch of mustard greens and prepared them according to what seemed to be the standard recipe: wash and stem the leaves, fry up some onions and garlic in bacon grease, add some chopped bacon, add water, add the leaves, stir briefly until the leaves wilt enough that the water covers them, then simmer. Everything we read said that twenty minutes was long enough, but at the twenty minute mark the leaves still looked bright green and smelled awfully pungent.

Other things came up, and so we left them simmering for another forty minutes, figuring it wouldn’t hurt. Looking again, the leaves had cooked down completely and had that nice, dark look you expect. I tasted a bit of the pot likker (juice), and it was excellent, mellow and satisfying. As were the greens when we served them. So, the simple answer to our vexing problem was: just cook them longer.

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3 thoughts on “Small discoveries

  1. Yes, I agree!

    I cook my greens longer than any other the other vegetables we eat. In addition, I’ve ditched the bacon grease in favor of safflower oil, olive oil, or real butter.

    Love the pot likker, too :)

  2. One other tip — most greens are high in oxalic acid which block calcium and iron absorption. I always steam spinach for a few minutes then squeeze it out well before serving. If you want to cook it longer and save the pot liquor, you should probably do that first and dump the first water, then cook them till they’re as done as you like.

    I haven’t gotten around to using other greens yet, though I remember my grandmother serving collards, turnip, and mustard greens. They’re on the list of foods I need to try.

  3. Thanks a lot for telling me about the Clover machine – I move my family from Seattle to the hinterboonies of MO – where good coffee is a rare treat indeed…..oh well one more thing to put on my list when I go back to visit my employer……

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