Swiss Chard

Chard

  • 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.

Culinary Use

  • 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.

Storage

  • 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)

Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

6 thoughts

  1. It will keep in the garden all winter, only going to seed in the spring. I cook the stems and leaves together and often add a white sauce with cheese and spice.

  2. Growing up, we’d call it spinach and we’d assume this is what Popeye was eating out of a can. I like nice fresh silverbeet so I can run a sharp blade down the stalk and cleanly get the green leaf off each side and then wilt it in butter.

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