C is for Chard

March 30th, 2012 by Erin Gennow
Rainbow Chard  ©Erin Gennow

Rainbow Chard ©Erin Gennow

C is for Chard

Classification – Genus: Beta, Species: B. vulgaris

Type of Vegetable – Leaf Vegetable

Varieties – Most varieties have curly or “waved” leaves

Rhubarb Chard – dark green leaves and red stalks

Ruby Chard –deep red leaves tinged with green and bright red stalks

Rainbow Chard – mix of varieties, which can include red, white, yellow and orange stalks

Bright Lights – a variety of colors and crinkly leaves

Fordhook Giant – light green leaves and yellow-green stalks

Lucullus – large, pale green leaves and white stalks

Carde Blanche – Flat leaf, French variety with white stalks and dark green leaves

History – In and around the Mediterranean and Sicily

Growing – Chard prefers mild climates, but is pretty adaptable.  It well in cool weather, as long as it’s above freezing.  In the summer months if the days get extremely hot the chard will bolt fairly quickly.  Till the soil very well, to make sure it is nice and loose, in a full sun or light shade area.  Keep the soil moist.  You can pick chard young or mature.  When picked up it can be eaten raw and used in salads.  When the chard grows to a mature state, cut the outer most stalks, leaving the inner stalks to mature.  Mature chard should be cooked before eating.

Nutrition – Stalks are a good source of iron. Vitamins A, K, C, fiber, and protein

Uses/Eating/Flavor – Pick young and eat raw in salads.  Grow full with thicker, firmer stalks and cook.  Chard is a good substitute for spinach, but needs a longer cooking time.  It’s wonderful steamed or sautéed.  The stalks need a longer cooking time than the greens, so it’s best to separate them before cooking.  Start cooking the stalks first if using in your recipe.

Cleaning/Storing – Choose glossy bright leaves with firm, crisp stalks.  I prefer to wash in a sink full of water a few times, swishing about to remove the dirt and sand.  Then spin dry in a salad spinner, lay out on paper towels to dry a bit.  Later, roll the paper towels with the chard and place in a zip top bag in the refrigerator.  While best used within 3-4 days, chard is rather hardy and I’ve stored mine for longer.

Recipes

Chard Ribbons with Garlic Chips and Toasted Pine Nuts

Herb Stuffing with Sage, Leeks, and Chard

Sautéed Rainbow Chard with Dried Cranberries

Walnut Rosemary Pesto Pasta with Red Chard

Reference

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chard

True Star Health: http://www.truestarhealth.com/Notes/3592004.html

Mother Earth News: http://www.motherearthnews.com/Grow-Chard-Three-Types.aspx

Botanical Online: http://www.botanical-online.com/english/florachard.htm

National Gardening Association: http://www.garden.org/articles/articles.php?q=show&id=3322

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