The most common types of greens grown in Ohio include spinach, leaf lettuce, kale, endive, escarole, and leaves from mustard, turnip, beet, broccoli, dandelion, and collard plants. Greens are available in Ohio between April 15 and November 1.
For information on the varieties of greens in Ohio, contact your county educator in agriculture and natural resources at Ohio State University Extension, or a master gardener volunteer.
- Select fresh, young, tender greens with a healthy green color that are free of blemishes.
- Avoid greens that show insect injury, coarse stems, seed stems, dry or yellowing leaves, dirt, or stunted development.
- Greens should be crisp, never wilted.
- Select only an amount that can be used in a short period of time.
Due to many variables such as moisture content, size, and variety, it is difficult to give specific recommendations. The recommendations below are approximations.
- ½ bushel = 10 pounds greens
- 1 pound of cooked, fresh greens = 2 or 3 (1/2 cup) servings
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 2½ cups of a variety of vegetables each day as part of a healthy diet. Greens are a great source of nutrition and offer many benefits:
- Greens are an excellent source of vitamin A, C, E, and K.
- They contain phytonutrients that may help prevent cancer and heart disease.
- Greens are high in folate, potassium, iron, calcium, and fiber.
- Naturally low in calories, greens contain approximately five to 40 calories per cup.
- Kale, spinach, and turnip greens are high in lutein, a phytonutrient that may reduce the risk of age-related eye disease.
- Vitamin C may be lost if greens are overcooked unless the broth is also consumed.
Foodborne illnesses have been related to fresh leafy greens. Proper handling and washing of greens is essential to ensure food safety.
- Washing greens before storing is not recommended as it may promote bacterial growth and spoilage.
- Fresh unwashed greens can be kept in the refrigerator crisper for three to five days.
- Before use, thoroughly wash greens under running water. This will help reduce the number of microorganisms.
- Do not use soap, detergent, or bleach because these liquids absorb into the vegetable.
- Fresh greens can be eaten raw if washed and then dried with paper towels, a clean kitchen towel, or spun in a salad spinner to remove excess moisture.
- Greens can be blanched and then frozen for longer storage.
Greens are great wilted, in salads, a soufflé, or as a main course. Cook fresh greens in very little water and only until tender to retain nutrients. See chart below for approximate cooking times for fresh greens.
|Type||Approximate Cook Time|
|Beet Greens||5–15 minutes|
|Collard/Dandelion Greens||10–20 minutes|
|Turnip Greens||10–30 minutes|
- Any greens: Add to smoothies for a nutritional boost.
- Lettuce/Endive: Enjoy fresh in salads or as a substitute for sandwich buns.
- Spinach: Enjoy raw in salad or sandwiches or cooked in soups or stews.
- Kale: Enjoy raw, sautéed, in soups, or make kale chips for a healthy snack (see recipe below).
- Escarole: Great sautéed, in soups, or in warm white-bean salad.
- Mustard Greens: Great braised, steamed, or in a salad.
- Turnip Greens: Generally, a more tender green. Enjoy braised or sautéed.
- Collard/Broccoli greens: Generally, a more bitter green. Pair with vinegar or citrus juice to add flavor and help decrease bitterness.
Sautéing versus Braising Greens
Sautéing is a type of dry heat cooking where greens are cooked quickly in a small amount of fat. Braising is a cooking method that promotes tenderness. It includes first sautéing the greens and then cooking them with a small amount of liquid (broth, fruit juice, or water) in a covered pot for an extended period.
A crunchy chip that you can customize to your liking! Make sure kale is washed and thoroughly dried to ensure kale chips are crispy and not soggy.
Yield: 6 servings
Time: Approximately 25 minutes
- 1 bunch of kale, chard, spinach, or collards
- Olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (optional).
- Wash and dry kale. With a knife or kitchen scissors, carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems. Tear into bite-size pieces.
- Place kale pieces on cookie sheet.
- Drizzle olive oil over kale—11/2 tablespoons per cup of kale. Sprinkle with seasonings of choice*.
- Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until kale is crisp and edges are brown but not burned.
*Seasoning suggestions: salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, turmeric, and Parmesan cheese.
Nutrition information: (1/6 of recipe) calories 52; fat 4 g; carbohydrates 4 g; protein 2 g; calcium 67 mg; and potassium 219 mg.
For information on preserving greens, go to ohioline.osu.edu or contact your local Ohio State University Extension office for the following fact sheets:
- Canning Basics, HYG-5338
- Basics for Canning Vegetables, HYG-5344
- Freezing Vegetables, HYG-5333
- Drying Fruits and Vegetables, HYG-5347
Ellis, Esther, “Culinary Lingo,” eat right, July 14, 2020, eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/cooking-tips-and-trends/culinary-lingo.
Enloe, Autumn, “The 13 Healthiest Leafy Green Vegetables,” healthline, July 1, 2018, healthline.com/nutrition/leafy-green-vegetables.
Moore, Marisa, “Leafy Greens: Nutrition Rock Stars,” Food & Nutrition, February 24, 2014, foodandnutrition.org/march-april-2014/leafy-greens-nutrition-rock-stars.
National Center for Home Food Preservation. n.d. University of Georgia, College of Family and Consumer Sciences (website). Accessed June 28, 2021.
U.S. Department of Agriculture. n.d. “MyPlate, U.S. Department of Agriculture.” Recipes. Accessed July 19, 2021. myplate.gov/myplate-kitchen/recipes.
Newgent, Jackie, “Washing Leafy Greens,” eat right, August 28, 2020, eatright.org/homefoodsafety/four-steps/wash/washing-leafy-greens.
Ohio Farm Bureau. n.d. “What’s in Season?” Accessed July 21, 2021. ofbf.org/whats-in-season.