Dalmatian Cabbage

When Kevin and I were living in California, collard greens were among our favourite vegetables. We’d buy them from the farmers’ market in big bunches. As we ate them, we’d dream of the day when we could grow them in our own garden.

In the USA, collards are quite widely known and eaten. People there told me that they are a traditional food of the Southern states, brought to the USA by African slaves. Like many New Zealanders, I’d never even heard of collards, far less eaten them, until I went to the USA. Coming back to New Zealand, I wondered whether collard seed would even be available for gardeners in this country.

When I asked about collard greens at Koanga Gardens, I was met with blank looks. Nobody had heard of them. “What kind of greens?” they asked. I described them: “A brassica, like a loose-leaf cabbage. . .” The lights went on. Collard greens are sold through the Koanga Institute as “Dalmatian Cabbage.” Interestingly, Dalmatian Cabbage is the only brassica rapa in the Koanga collection that is an Heirloom from our local bio-region. Pretty silly that I had to go all the way to the United States to develop a taste for it!

Why is it called “Dalmatian Cabbage”? Because it is named after the Yugoslavs who came to New Zealand to work in the gum fields. They brought with them some wonderful vegetables, a few of which still survive as heirlooms — We are also growing Dalmatian Peas and Dalmatian Beans in our garden this year.

Collards are hardy and easy to grow. Since they can be picked leaf by leaf as we need them, we can always eat them very fresh. They are packed with nutrients, and, best of all, they are delicious. We’ve been picking our Dalmatian Cabbage for a couple of weeks, now. This is our favourite way to prepare it:

Ribbon-cut a bunch of Dalmatian Cabbage very finely.

Toss the greens into a pot of boiling water and boil until bright green and tender (a few minutes).

Drain the greens, then mix in a clove of crushed garlic while they are still very hot.

Season to taste with olive oil, and a little salt and lemon juice.

Mix well, and serve.

(Optional: add a handful of sprouted sesame seeds at the same time as the garlic.)

Collard plant in our garden

Collards for lunch

6 Responses to “Dalmatian Cabbage”

  1. Sue Rawhiti says:

    Hi, I am enquiring about Dalmation Beans, my mother was given some a few years ago and would like to know where she can get more seeds.
    Your help would be appreciated.
    Cheers Sue.

  2. Kevin says:

    Hi Sue,

    We got our Dalmatian beans from Running Brook Seeds. Stella is great and we have been extremely happy with all of the seeds we have purchased from her.

    The contact details are here:



  3. Kate says:

    Nice blog. I found it because I recently moved from the US and am having trouble finding collards or collard seeds. I don’t recognize the places named in your posts, because I am very new here. Do you know where I could get collard seeds near Palmerston North?

  4. Rebecca says:

    Hi Kate,
    We got our collard seeds from the Koanga Institute. They were listed as “Dalmatian Cabbage.” The Koanga Gardens shop does mail order, so you could contact them and ask if they have any to send you. Their website is as follows: http://www.koanga.co.nz/
    Welcome to New Zealand and good luck with your search.

  5. George Mihaljevich says:

    Most Dallies add a pinch of Baking Soda when boiling the Dally Cabbage. Recipe similar to above. Cabbage when ready is soft not crunchy. They also add a finely chopped potato and cook cabbage until potato is soft. They do this also with beans ( add a pinch of baking soda and small chopped up potato).
    You can also use left over cabbage next day by frying in a pan withsome oil until hot. The Dallies call it “Dalmatinski Kupus”.

  6. Des Waters says:

    Hi I was wondering how I could get my hands on some Kefir grains, thanks Des