Pickled collard stems. “What the h-e-double hockey sticks is that?” probably comes to mind first, quickly followed by “How does one go about pickling said collard stem?”. Luckily I’ve trudged ahead through trial and error and therefore, have those answers for you. These little pickled delights can be addicting. They can be substituted for celery in a Bloody Mary, used to scoop up some jalapeno pimento cheese, or even chopped up and used in place of relish. You can pickle them whole or slice them on the bias. Even better news? They’re made from a part of the collard you normally pitch. Now that’s my kind o’ recycling. Let’s get to it.
Pickled Collard Stems
1 gallon glass container with lid
Stems from 2 bunches of collards, trimmed to 1 inch shorter than glass jar
1/2 onion, sliced thinly
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tsp whole black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
1 TBSP dried jalapenos (can use fresh)
1 gallon filtered water
3/4 cup pickling salt
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
Pack jar tightly with stems, onions, and spices. Bring water, salt, and vinegar to a low boil. Remove brine from heat and let cool for 15 minutes.
Pour brine over veggies, making sure brine covers everything. Place a fermentation weight (or a rigged up one like I do) over the top to prevent as much contact between the air and the brine surface. If you have a fermentation crock, bust that thing out and put it to use. Let your container sit at room temperature for 3-5 days, until your spears have the saltiness, flavor, and crunchiness you like.
When they reach that point, trade your weight for a lid and place the whole container in the fridge. Your pickled stems will last several weeks (if you don’t gobble them up first!).