Michigan greens are a year-round treat

Spinach and collards and kale! Oh my! How to properly wash, prepare and preserve your greens.

A bundle of greens
A bundle of greens

While kale has stolen the spotlight in recent years, Michigan farmers offer a bounty of other delicious greens, among them spinach, Swiss chard and collards. The leafy tops of many root vegetables, including turnips and beets, are also edible and can be prepared just as you would cook other greens. Greens are available nearly year round in many areas of Michigan thanks to season extension techniques.

Greens grow near the soil and, therefore, need thorough or multiple washings in cool water to remove grit and soil particles before eating raw or cooking. If using raw, be sure to select young, tender greens as the leaves toughen as the plant gets older. Unwashed greens will stay fresh in a refrigerator for 3-4 days if kept in the crisper with a moist paper towel.

For recipe ideas that feature Michigan greens, visit the Michigan Fresh Pinterest page and view the Michigan Fresh Kale YouTube video.

Even though it is possible to can greens in a pressure canner, the quality is poor. Freezing is a much better way to preserve greens. To freeze any type of green, select young and tender leaves. Wash and cut off any woody stem parts, then blanch for two minutes (add one additional minute for collard greens). After blanching, greens should be placed in ice-cold water to cool for the same amount of time as blanching. Drain greens very well, and carefully pat dry. Then pack into containers or freezer bags, removing as much air as possible and allowing for ½-inch of headspace. Label and date containers, and freeze for up to one year. For more detailed freezing instructions, as well as canning instructions, refer to the Michigan Fresh Greens factsheet.

Michigan Fresh helps people explore the state’s bounty of fresh, locally-grown fruits, vegetables, meats and more. Find factsheets and much more information on our website. You can also find and follow Michigan Fresh on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Michigan State University Extension’s Community Food Systems work team supports the development of local food systems in Michigan. 

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