How to Cook Chard and Keep the Stems Bright Colour

Chard is tasty quick to cook and also healthy and looks great. There are a few things to think about when you are deciding how you want to cook your chard. You need to decide if you want to boil, saute or steam them and if you want to keep the brightly coloured stems.

It is a great vegetable to have in your garden as it is easy to grow, easy to cook, and available most of the year when many fresh vegs is a bit thin on the ground.

I grow these in my allotment a lot of the time. I like them because they are brightly coloured, have a long growing season and you can just keep using them and they are a bit like spinach. They are not always available in the shops and are considered a bit of gourmet food so it is worth growing them if you can.

How to Cook Chard

What is the difference between Red, Yellow, Rainbow, and Swiss chard?

Chard comes with different coloured stalks; red, yellow, and white. These chards are usually Swiss Chard regardless of whether they are red, white, or rainbow. There are other variations of colour as well, orange and pink.

Chard typically tastes similar to spinach.  The red chard tastes slightly stronger than the other colours. Overall though they are very similar and can be handled much the same when cooking.

How to Use Chard

Chard is a perfect back up vegetable as it’s flavour isn’t overwhelming and it is great for adding some colour to your plate with the brightly coloured stems.

How to Cook Swiss Chard, Rainbow, Ruby & Gold

How to Prepare Chard for Cooking

How to Cook Chard Greens and stems

Chard preparation is easy. First, you have a choice whether or not to cook the greens and the stems together or to cut the stems off and cook them separately.

Many people prefer to cook them separately as the stems take longer to cook than the greens. If you have thick stems it is worth cooking them separately or at least longer.

  1. Wash leaves and stems thoroughly and check for any dirt or debris, bugs etc.
  2. Cut the stems from the greens if you are going to.
  3. Trim the ends of the stems.
  4. Cut the stems into even small pieces.
  5. You are also meant to cut up the leaves into smaller pieces too although I confess I prefer mine in larger strips.

How to Boil the Leaves

  1. Bring a saucepan of water to the boil.
  2. Add the leaves to the boiling water and cook them for between 1 and 3 minutes depending on how well cooked you like them.
  3. Remove the leaves from the pan and drain.

How to Cook Chard Stems

  1. If you are cooking separately place the stems into a saucepan of boiling water and cook them for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the stalks and drain.

Cooking the Leaves & Stems Together

  1. Add the stalks to the boiling water first.
  2. Then after a couple of minutes add the leaves.
  3. Cook for a further minute or two then remove both and drain.

How to Steam Chard

Steaming chard greens and stems is easy. They are less “wet” when cooked this way too. Ideally, you need a steamer for your hob.

  1. Prepare the chard as shown above.
  2. Place steamer onto your hob with boiling water in the base. You do not want the water to touch the greens.
  3. Add the stems to the basket or top pan with steamer holes.
  4. Steam the stems for 4 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add the greens to the pan about 1 minute after the stems and steam for 3 to 4 minutes.
  6. Remove both greens and stems from the heat.
  7. Drain them if it is necessary.
  8. Serve.

How to Saute Chard

You can simply saute chard on its own, however, there are also lots of simple recipes that add extras like garlic and lemon, etc to make a full recipe.

  1. Prepare your chard as above.
  2. heat a frying pan over medium heat with oil.
  3. Add your chard stems and salt and fry for about 2 minutes tossing them the whole time.
  4. Add your leaves and cook for another minute still tossing them.
  5. Remove and they are ready to eat.

How to Maintain Stem Colour When Cooking Chard

How to Cook Chard Greens and stalks

One of the great things about chard is its stunningly coloured stems.  You want to keep These when cooking.  Although not as bad as some plants for colour loss if you do find your lovely bright stem’s colours go icky there are a few different things you can try to prevent it.

  1. Firstly don’t overcook them, by cooking them lightly you retain not only the colour but all their nutritional value as well.
  2. Cook the leaves and stems separately as the green from the leaves leaches out and ruins the stem colour.
  3. Cook in salt to help to retain the clour. (Note: this also reduces the time to cook).
  4. Blanch the leaves and stems after cooking.
  5. Or use a teaspoon of white vinegar in the water while cooking.

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