The Important First Step When Cooking Canned Collard Greens

A plate of Southern style collard greens
A plate of Southern style collard greens - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Using canned collard greens can be an easy way to cut down on prep and cooking time, while still giving you a deliciously flavorful dish. However, if you do opt to use the canned version, the first thing you should do is drain and rinse your greens. This step serves a few important purposes. First, canned foods in general tend to be on the saltier side, and draining and rinsing your greens can help you eliminate some of this excess sodium and prevent your dish from being too salty. Second, removing some of the excess moisture from your greens allows them to take on more flavors during cooking without tasting watered down.

To properly drain and rinse your collard greens, start by pouring out as much liquid from the can as possible. Then, transfer them into a fine mesh strainer and run cold water over your greens to rinse them off. You don't need to rinse them aggressively -- running the water through the strainer is enough to get the job done. You'll then want to make sure all of the liquid thoroughly drains out of the strainer. Gently push down on the greens to help squeeze out more moisture, just don't push too hard or you can break apart the delicate greens.

Read more: 20 Popular Canned Soups, Ranked Worst To Best

Other Tips For Working With Canned Collard Greens

Close-up of collard greens with cooked turkey
Close-up of collard greens with cooked turkey - Anthony Jackson/Getty Images

Canned collard greens are already precooked, and oftentimes preseasoned. It's worth tasting the greens before you put them in a pan to see how much additional seasoning they actually need. When shopping, look for unseasoned canned greens if you're picky about the flavors you want to get from your meal. Otherwise, you can treat canned collard greens just like you would your normal greens in terms of the flavors you infuse them with. You also won't have to cook them as long as you'd typically have to -- you're really just reheating the greens rather than actually cooking them.

And when it comes to cooking, you have options. Sauté onions and bacon in your pan before adding the greens to infuse a savory depth of flavor and make for a more satisfying side dish. A splash of vinegar is another common addition, as it gives the dish a slightly sour note that can cut through some of the richness of the other flavors. A dash of brown sugar can bring a salty-sweet element to your collard greens, making for a more addicting flavor profile. Even after properly rinsing and draining your canned greens, they will still have some salty flavor to them. Use a light hand when adding any extra salt and be sure to taste as you go so you don't add too much.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.