Southern Cuisine: Holle's Greens and Ham

How to cook turnip greens and mustard greens

Greens are a staple of Southern food and soul food! In the Deep South, “greens” means turnip greens, collard greens, or mustard greens. Though all three are similar in taste and appearance, there are some differences. Actually, I don’t care for collards. I know – that’s very un-Southern of me, but they’re just too strong-tasting for me, and I don’t like the way they smell, either. I like turnip greens, but my favorite is mustard greens, especially when the leaves are young and tender. When I had my garden, I would go out early in the morning and cut a basketful of tender leaves to cook for the noon meal.

Turnip greens and other greens are packed with nutrients, and they just plain taste good! They're a great side dish to serve with baked ham, fried ham, fried chicken, pork chops, or just about any other meat or poultry. Hubby loves the "pot liquor" of the turnip greens - you know, the juice. He likes sopping it up with my homemade cornbread.

The hardest thing about preparing fresh greens is cleaning them. I know people who put them in the washing machine to accomplish this feat! I’ve never tried that. I usually place my fresh greens in a large pot of cold, salted water and let them soak for awhile to loosen any dirt and to kill any attached insects. Then I rinse them several times under running water.

Next, I remove any tough stems and discolored leaves. After that, I tear the leaves into smaller pieces. Some people use kitchen scissors to cut their turnip greens, mustard greens, or collard greens into small strips. Of course, now you can purchase pre-washed greens at the grocery store. It’s still a good idea to rinse them, though.

Here’s how I cook turnip greens and mustard greens:

What you’ll need:

4 pounds of greens (more or less)

Cured ham, cut into pieces (about a pound)

4-5 slices bacon (optional – see below)

1 ½ cups chicken broth

1 tablespoon sugar

Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a black iron Dutch oven, cook ham until done. If the ham is too lean, you won’t have enough grease. In this case, fry a few strips of bacon with the ham. Do not drain off the fat!

Add the chicken broth, the sugar, the salt and pepper, and the turnip greens.

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat.

Put the lid on the pot and let the greens simmer for about an hour or until completely cooked.

Serve with my cornbread or my crackling corn bread and iced tea. Use the cornbread to “sop up” all the delicious pot liquor.

Most Southerners like to pour pepper vinegar over their turnip greens, but I prefer sweet pickle juice. Try it!

Turnip greens and ham at top center.
Turnip greens and ham at top center.

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Comments 20 comments

Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

Sounds great again. Thank you.


sabrebIade profile image

sabrebIade 6 years ago from Pennsylvania

Your...Hubs...make..me...hungry!

LOL

And make me think of eating dinner at my grandparents when I was a kid.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

thanks for reading, HH!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Sabre, I'm glad the hub brought back happy memories for you. Thanks for reading!


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

Great hub, you know I have never tasted any of these greens. That's what I get for being from New Jersey!


rmcrayne profile image

rmcrayne 6 years ago from San Antonio Texas

I've done the washing machine with collards and it worked great and didn't make a mess. But you know collards are tougher than mustard and turnip greens, so I can't vouch for them. I think it'd be okay, except maybe not with the young, tender greens.

Also, I stopped washing the pre-washed greens and have been pleased that there was no grit. I think the brand was Old Glory, like the seasoned canned greens.


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Bpop - you've never eaten greens? Why, that's un-American! lol!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

RM - I agree. I don't think the washer would work for young mustards, and they're my fave! I'll have to look for Old Glory. Thanks for the tip!


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Simple and tasty


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

What kind of greens do you eat in the UK, Ethel?


DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 6 years ago

Habee, Yummy, I am cooking these today! You have the best recipes... Thank you for sharing, Blessings!


Granny's House profile image

Granny's House 6 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

I am trying this today. I love any kind of greens. I must be from the south in another life. lol


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, Deb! Let me know how you like them!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, Granny! Good for you!


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

it looks yummy habee, thnaks for sharing and easy to do, thanks, Maita


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Thanks, Maita! Leave out the fat, and it's even healthy!


DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 6 years ago

Habee, They were great tasty & tender! I actually mixed all three; collard, mustard & turnip!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Hi, Deb! I often mix turnips and mustards, but I don't like collards. Glad you liked them!


liminal 6 years ago

Sounds tasty! I lived in North Carolina for two years and grew to love, and I mean LOVE, boiled peanuts! Greens are great too, and nutritious!


habee profile image

habee 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I'm making a huge pot of greens next Sunday for the whole family, along with smoked ham, sweet potatoes, green beans, crackling corn bread, buttermilk biscuits, and iced tea. My daughters are bringing stuff, too. Can't wait to get into those greens!

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