Collard greens have a slightly bitter, alkaline taste, tempered by sweeter white veins.
Usually associated with soul food, collard greens evoke a dreamy stillness, a languorous story told in a strong Deep South drawl. However, they originated in the Eastern Mediterranean and only travelled to the cotton states of America centuries later. Their story is in part shaped by the brutalities of the slave trade: on plantations, collard greens were one of the few vegetables that African slaves were allowed to grow for themselves.
While their resilient leaves speak of a history of human displacement & subjugation, on Keveral Farm in Cornwall, the collard plants seem to have a soft distractedness to their composition. They are cultivated here especially for Natoora by Good Earth Growers, a collaborative growing project that enables small-scale farmers to produce specialised vegetables in sustainable ways.
Collard leaves grow in loose rosettes that drift from their central stem, never forming a tight head in the way cabbages do. Their flavour, however, is far from diffuse. Thriving in cold weather, the collard greens on Keveral Farm are grown slowly outdoors. This means that while their white-veined leaves toughen as the temperature drops, they do not become fibrous or chewy. Instead, they take on a rich, earthy flavour that goes particularly well with pork, and remain sweeter than other brassicas even as we tumble into winter.