- Swiss Chard is also called Chard, Leaf Beet, Silverbeet, Seakale beet, White Beet, Spinach Beet or Crab Beet. In Africa, it’s simply called spinach. It’s a cultivated variety of the species Beta vulgaris. Other cultivated varieties of Beta vulgaris include :Beetroot, Sugar beet, Spinach Beet and Fodder Beet.
- It’s a biannual, popular around the Mediterranean, especially in Provence and Nice and in Catalonia.
- Swiss Chard produces large leaves with fleshy stalks (midrib). They leaves are usually dark green, and wider and flatter than beet greens. They can also be reddish in colour.
- The leaves are highly nutritious. They taste like spinach but are coarser in texture.
- The fleshy stalks (midrib) also vary in colour, and can be white, yellow or red, depending on the cultivar.
- There are several cultivars of Swiss Chard including the green forms, such as ‘Lucullus’ and ‘Fordhook Giant’, as well as red-ribbed forms such as ‘Ruby Chard’ and ‘Rhubarb Chard.
- In Europe, the stalks and leaves are cooked separately in different ways. The stalk is considered the best part of the plant.
- In Africa the whole leaf blades are usually prepared with the stalks as one dish.
- In some countries the fleshy midribs are discarded and only the leaves are cooked.
Cooking the Swiss Chard
- Unless Swiss Chard is young, the stalks are often separated from leaves and cooked as you would, asparagus.
- The stalks (midrib) of Swiss chard are eaten boiled while the whole leaf blades are sautéed and eaten like spinach.
- The slight bitterness of Swiss Chard fades with cooking, leaving a refined flavour which is more delicate than that of cooked spinach.
- Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads.
- Bake the stalks and sprinkle with cheese and breadcrumbs.
- Cook chard leaves together with scrambled eggs for breakfast.
- Add Swiss chard to soups in the last few minutes of cooking.
- Raw chard is extremely perishable and is best consumed fresh.
- Put it unwashed in a perforated plastic bag. it will store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- You can also blanch and freeze them. (6 months)
- Wash, drain off excess moisture, store in airtight containers in the freezer. (6 months)