I hate adages that don’t make sense. Like that one about which came first, the chicken or the egg. (That does count as an adage, doesn’t it?) It’s perfectly clear that the egg came first. It was laid by something that wasn’t quite a chicken, which had been bred to something else that wasn’t quite a chicken. But that very first chicken had to come out of an egg. Q.E.D.
And what’s with the one about life handing you lemons? Lemons are excellent and, last I checked, they were three for a dollar at Stop & Shop. If life hands you enough, you never have to work again.
If life hands you bitter collard greens, however, you’re screwed.
You know what I mean.
The row of collard greens I planted earlier this year is the picture of health. As everything else in the garden died off, the collards grew and thrived. The biggest one has a stem as big as my forearm. It was with some pride that I sautéed, simmered, and creamed a pot of them for my Thanksgiving table.
One word: blech.
Now, collards are supposed to be a little bit bitter. They are a cruciferous vegetable, and all cruciferous vegetables have bitter-tasting compounds like glucosinolates and isothiocyanates which, on the upside, are very good for you. The downside is that they are bitter.
All I can say is that my collards must be very, very good for you. I have been eating collard greens all my life – including those which I grew myself – and I have never encountered this level of mouth-puckering phytonutrients.
The net of this is that my collards make a lousy side dish. But they make for an excellent science experiment.
The internet is rife with suggestions for de-bittering collard greens. Cook them with bacon. Boil them in salted water. Add baking soda. Cook for a long time. Cook for a short time. What all these strategies seem to have in common is absolutely no scientific justification, at least not that I can find.
There’s only one thing for it, and that’s to try the various methods and see what works. So, if you’ve got a method, toss it into the ring. If you’ve got the science to go with it, even better. I’ll do the Great Collard Cook-Off next week, and hope to find the definitive de-bitterer (or that there isn’t one).
Yes, folks, it’s Starving off the Land, making history one dorky idea at a time.