Friday, October 27, 2017

Pickled Swiss Chard

Pickled Swiss Chard

I like Swiss Chard.  It grows really well in my garden, has a mild flavor as greens go, and can be substituted for spinach, kale, and other hearty greens in soups, stews, name it.  Plus, it has a long growing season.  In fact, we've had a frost or two and it's still chugging away in my garden like it's nobody's business.

Unfortunately, this year we ended-up with too much.  I planted about 8 plants plus we joined a CSA, so I was receiving bunches of it from the farm each week.  We've also had a busy summer where I wasn't home cooking as much, so I really couldn't keep up with it.  I had to find a way to preserve it.

When it comes to greens, the easiest and most common way to preserve them is to blanch them in boiling water, drain, then freeze.  However, I find they get mushy and lose the fresh flavor that I love, so I was looking for something a little different.  I considered pressure canning them, but I figured that'd have much the same problem, plus they'd get kind of gray-ish.  Then, a thought hit me.

In my family, we've always eaten brassicas and greens (broccoli, spinach, cabbage, etc.) with a dash of vinegar.  I don't know where it started, but my Dad always did it and so I picked-up the habit.  It's a great way to give them a little pick-me-up flavor without drowning them in sauce or seasoning.  So why not pickle my chard?

I tried a single jar and it came out awesome.  So here's the recipe for you today.


Pickled Swiss Chard

For the Brine:
2 cups cider vinegar
2 cups water
1-2 tablespoons sugar (to taste)

1 teaspoon of pickling salt per jar
As much Swiss Chard as you like

  1. Wash chard leaves thoroughly.  Strip the rib out of the center and chop it into half-inch pieces.  Chop the chard into 1 to 2 inch squares.
  2.  Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Working in batches, blanch the chard and stems in the water until the greens wilt slightly.  Remove into a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking and set the color.
  3. Prepare brine by bringing ingredients to a simmer until the sugar is dissolved and liquid is hot.
  4. Pack washed pint jars with 1 teaspoon of salt each and blanched chard, packing it full but not so tightly that it is compacted.  Leave 1 inch of head space.
  5. Pour brine over chard in jars leaving 1 inch of head space.  De-bubble as necessary.  Make additional batches of brine as needed to fill jars.
  6. Place lids and rings on jars.  Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Pickled Swiss Chard (in a Purple Jar)

Why is it Safe?
A 50/50 vinegar/water brine recipe is typical for most vegetable pickles and according to the NCHFP, sugar and spices can be modified at will in a pickle recipe (sugar is not acting as a preservative).  This particular recipe was adapted from the Food In Jars recipe for Garlic Dill Pickles with additional review of similar recipes.  A processing time of 10 minutes was chosen instead of 5 minutes to err on the side of caution against the chard being packed too compactly and making a denser product than cucumber pickles.

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