How to Preserve Mustard Greens

pickled mustard greens in refrigerator

(Photo by Derek R. Trimble)

One of the few edible plants that will stay green (or purple, depending on the variety) and growing all winter, mustard greens are a go-to crop for my cool-season garden. I love to pick the slightly spicy leaves and use them sautéed with rice or pasta or as a side all to themselves. They’re great fresh, too, but because they’re so pungent, I use the fresh greens in moderation—maybe a leaf on a sandwich (skip the extra mustard, the flavor is already in the greens) or some torn leaves mixed with spinach or lettuces in a salad.

As soon as temperatures start rising and spring comes, though, mustard greens, like most plants, put their energy into producing the next generation and start to flower. In the veggie world, this is called bolting. As the plant starts to send up a flower stalk, you’ll notice that the leaves begin to lose their fullness and flavor and begin to get spindly and bitter. At this point, many gardeners sacrifice the greens and leave the plants to flower in the garden. The delicate yellow blooms really are lovely.

mustard green with yellow flower in spring

But this year, I was in the midst of moving my garden from one spot to another when the mustard plants began to flower, so I decided to harvest all the greens I could and find a way to preserve them. This recipe for pickled mustard greens sounded yummy and easy enough, so I gave it a try, putting my own spin on it, too. (I mean, every recipe needs garlic, right?)

After waiting the obligatory number of days, we tried the pickled mustard greens with Szechuan beef and rice, and they were terrific. As much as I love to preserve food from my garden, I’m honestly not a huge lover of pickled things, but this recipe gives the greens a mild, sweet-and-spicy flavor that is totally palatable even for the pickle averse. I have a feeling we’ll be eating these pickled mustard greens once a week or so through the spring until the quart jar is empty.

If you’ve never tried growing greens, or if you’re just rusty, check out this info on How to Grow Greens.

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Step 1

 Open Galleryharvested mustard greens in basketHarvest your greens, wash thoroughly and set them aside. Combine the sugar, water, vinegar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Step 2

 Open Gallerychopped mustard greens, peppers and garlic stuffed into a jar

(Photo by Derek R. Trimble)

Trim the stems from mustard greens. You can use a knife to do this, or sometimes I just tear the leaves from the stems by hand. Save the stems for your compost bin. Coarsely chop the leaves, and then pack the leaves, halved Serranos and halved garlic cloves into the quart jar. Keep packing the greens down until the jar is completely filled.

Step 3

 Open Gallerypouring vinegar mixture over mustard greens to preserve them

(Photo by Derek R. Trimble)

Slowly pour the hot liquids over the greens. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 days before using.

Recipe adapted from a recipe from Saveur magazine online.

Materials

  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • ½ pound mustard greens
  • 3 Serrano chiles, halved lengthwise
  • 3 cloves garlic, halved
  • 1 quart jar, cleaned
About Kelly Smith Trimble 

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I grow vegetables wherever I can find enough sunlight and forage roadsides and hiking trails for plants that can be used to make natural dyes. You can find both vintage ...

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4 Responses

  1. aaron says:

    The water/vinegar ration seems off for most non-water bath pickles…any thoughts? Just made some and it all sealed up well…but wondering if they'll be safe. Thanks!

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  3. Cheryl Moore says:

    wow talking about timing!!! Thank you for the info about the mustard greens. Ours are ready love cooked green lot but we are getting started right now on the picking recipe you have here thank you!!!!

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