An Introduction to Chard (Swiss Chard): Storage
Published on July 31, 2009 at 01:15 PM by Kate Jonuska
Science Talk: Chard is a leafy, green vegetable related to the beet, though the beet is cultivated mostly for its roots while chard’s leaves are the valuable part for most cooks. It was first called Swiss chard to differentiate it from French spinach in the 19th Century (source), but it’s very popular throughout the Mediterranean. It’s also a relative of spinach and is highly nutritious, with high levels of magnesium, calcium, vitamin K, iron, potassium, vitamin A, folate, zinc, vitamin C, fiber and…. End Science Talk Chard is a great place to start tackling new produce. Consider it spinach’s firmer cousin — unless it’s very young, it’s too tough to eat raw — though it’s often described as more biting/bitter than spinach. But as you can see from the rainbow chard delivered from our CSA this week, it’s also quite lovely. Like a box of crayons. (We’re supposed to eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables, after all.) But what to do with it once you get it home from the market? Well, wash it, of course, and let it dry or use a salad spinner. But if you’re not cooking right HERE and right NOW, start with correct storage. You’ll need to separate the stems from the leaves. Some recipes will call for only leaves, while some will ask for both leaves and stems. Even if you’re trying one of the latter, the stems will be added separately before the leaves, because they take significantly longer to cook. So it’s best to take care of that now. Left uncovered, even refrigerated, chard will wilt. But it can be kept for a week — some even say two, but I’d be reticent to go that far — in this way: A large resealable bag + a clean paper towel. Slide the leaves into the hug of the paper towel + stems. Press out as much air as possible without bruising the leaves. Presto! I’ve had great success with storing chard and various other greens in this way. If I haven’t used the chard within a few days, I open it and replace the paper towel if it seems saturated with damp. Now… what to cook, what to cook? Some suggestions are below, and I’ll be making a few more dishes with this vegetable of the week within the next few days.