by David Cecelski
I was on US 111 in southern Duplin County, on my way to a MLK, Jr. Day event at St. Thomas AME Zion Church in Swansboro, when I saw the sign for collard kraut. It was in the front yard of a farmhouse in between the little communities of Lyman and Fountaintown.
Collard kraut—collard greens that have been fermented in salt brine—used to be commonplace in a big swath of the American South. It’s made just like sauerkraut, except with collards instead of cabbage.
Of course I had to stop—I’m not sure I’d ever seen anyone selling collard kraut before. A very nice lady named Julia King answered the door and said that yes indeed she would sell me some collard kraut. She and her husband James grow about an acre of collard greens every year and sell both fresh collards and collard kraut.
This year the Kings put up 3 barrels of collard kraut, Mrs. King told me. She’d sell me the fresh collard kraut straight out of a barrel or pint jars of collard kraut that she had already seasoned, cooked, and canned.
Mrs. King said that her mother used to make collard kraut when she was a child. Just like her mother used to, she and her husband wash and cut up the collards, then put them in a barrel in a salt brine with a weighted lid resting on the top of the brine. Mrs. King, who was as nice as she could be, said that they usually ferment their collards about a month.
You can eat collard kraut as a side dish, a condiment, or as a main dish. Like a lot of people I’ve talked to, Mrs. King likes it better than sauerkraut. People often tell me that it is mellower and sweeter than sauerkraut. I got two jars and I’m looking forward to trying it—and if I like it as much as I think I will, I’m going to try to make my own next summer.
If you’re looking for a restaurant that serves fresh (not canned or frozen) collards—an almost unheard of phenomenon these days—I highly recommend a little soul food place called The Lickin’ Pot. It’s in the rural community of Rhodestown, in Onslow County, 12 or 13 miles from where I found the collard kraut today.
The Lickin’ Pot is a family business. The mom, Rose, got started by selling dinner plates by the roadside. Now she, her husband Robert, and their daughter run this fabulous little joint on a dirt lane surrounded by cotton fields. They serve ribs, fried chicken, barbecue, and catfish plates, as well as homemade desserts like banana pudding and sweet potato pie.
The Lickin’ Pot has no seating inside, but they have 3 or 4 tables outside on an open porch. It’s a lovely place to sit and eat on a warm, sunny winter day like today. Everything I’ve had there is good, but the collards are to die for: fresh, sweet, and seasoned beautifully.
The Lickin’ Pot is at 573 Rhodestown Road, Rhodestown (the mailing address is Jacksonville), and is open 6 AM to 8 PM, Monday-Saturday. You can reach them by phone at (910) 430-4175 or (910) 324-2811.
Have you run across a recipe for collards kraut by chance? I want to make it.
Deborah Miller says
We have put out a call to all our readers and other resources to see if we can find one. We tried googling, but did not find a specific recipe, though we love the explanation Vivian Howard from The Chef and The Farmer gives on her blog (http://www.achefslifeseries.com/posts/25).
If you find one before we do, please let us know.
Kellie Taylor says
Hey there… Do you guys sell and ship collard kraut? I used to get it right here in Lexington, SC at Four Oaks Farms… but they aren’t making it anymore…..
My grandparents used to make kraut and now my parents and my husband and I do. We all use the same recipe that had been passed down for many generations.
Pack a quart jar with collards
add 1 tsp of salt
Fill with water
place lids on loosely they will seal naturally. Check on the lids in a day or so for a seal and just tighten. Let ferment for at least a month but like with anything you ferment the longer the better… We have it every year for July 4th, easter, thanksgiving and christmas.
hope this helps.
sandra threlkeld says
I would like to know where I can buy collard kraut around Augusta, ga
Ken Broadhurst says
I’m from Morehead City originally and we ate (and eat) a lot of collard greens there. I now live in France in the Loire Valley and grow my own collards here. This is the land of good choucroute (sauerkraut) as made with “white” cabbage in Alsace and Lorraine and served with smoked meats including sausages. I grow my own collard greens in my vegetable garden and I have had a great crop this fall. I still have a lot of collards to pick, and I just came up with the idea of making fermented collard kraut. You’ve confirmed that it’s a good idea. If I make some over the next month or so, I’ll post about it on my blog. I will use a French recipe (Alsatian) for mine. Thanks for your blog and your post.
Guy Padgett says
Granddad put up “old timey kraut” every year. His recipe was simple enough: layer of collards (shredded) layer of cabbage (layered) tbs or so of salt over each layer until crock bout 3/4 full. Let sit hour or so; knead and mix like crazy to work out juice. Tamp down the batch. Repeat knead/tamp until juice covers the kraut. Weigh down and let it work for 3 weeks to a month. Skim as needed. He would use water to augment juice if necessary but avoided that.
I have done this many times as well as mix/knead in large bowl and pack jars for jar ferment.
Hans Schuster says
Looking forward to making this ole timely kraut. Any type of salt will work?
Thanks for sharing.
We Have started a batch of collard Krauthammer. Not sure when we should skim can you offer any
information on the skimming process and when to.