Let me just say one thing. It was Kevin’s idea.
We’ve got four overwintered collard plants that are ready for their Little Shop of Horrors audition. Every day, they send up seed heads in what I am trying to make a vain effort to reproduce. To that end, every day I go out there with my kitchen shears and cut off the seed heads. So far, the plants haven’t gotten bitter or woody, and I treat the seed head stalks like broccoli raab.
But I know this is a battle I’m destined to lose, if not to the collards themselves then to the slugs who, unlike Kevin and me, seem more than happy to live on an all-collard diet. Before it’s too late, I have to harvest the leaves. Once I harvest them, they have to be washed, chopped, blanched, and frozen.
It is a job I dread, largely because washing greens is probably my single least favorite kitchen chore. I don’t know why I dislike it – there are a zillion jobs that are just as tedious or messy that I don’t mind at all. I’ll sit there all day taking crab meat out of crab bodies with a nutpick, but give me a lettuce to wash and I absolutely, positively, have a prior engagement.
So you can understand that a bushel of collard greens is enough to chill my very soul.
Last night, over dinner, Kevin and I were talking about how to tackle them, and my first idea was to put them in the bathtub. Kevin thought that wasn’t much of a labor-savor, and might be a turn-off to anyone who’s ever seen our bathtub. And then he said, offhandedly, “Why don’t you just do them in the washing machine?”
The washing machine! Genius! Because what is a washing machine if not a salad spinner, writ large?
I went out with my kitchen shears. I cut a bushel of leaves. I ran the washing machine empty, once, to get rid of any residual soap, and then put in my load of collards.
And I checked the dial. There’s Permanent Press, there’s Regular, there’s Whites, but there’s no Leafy Greens cycle. Delicates seemed to come closest. Compared to, say, arugula, collards aren’t delicate at all, but compared to the frilly lacy things that I gave up long ago in favor of underwear that wears well and doesn’t show the dirt, collards are delicate indeed.
Delicates it would have to be, in cold water. I closed the door, turned the dial, and started her up.
Half an hour later, I had a bushel of clean collards!
I can’t say it worked perfectly. The greens got pretty bruised, but that doesn’t matter much for greens that you’re going to blanch and freeze anyway – don’t try this with that arugula. (At least there was no ring around the collards!) The only other problem is that it left a lot of bits of green in the washer. I left the door open for a while so they would dry, and cleaning the washing machine wasn’t nearly as bad as cleaning the collards themselves.
Kevin thinks we can get it to work better if we just do a rinse and a spin, rather than an entire wash cycle. I think he’s probably right, but I have no idea how to make our washing machine do that. Even so, I will definitely use this method again, either for collards or kale.
Kevin and I may be walking around with little flecks of green, or maybe of slug, on our clothes for a while, but that seems a small price to pay for anything that gets me out of washing collards.