Fall Harvest: Chard

September 29, 2013 at 9:04 AM | Posted in vegetables | 2 Comments
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Chard like all cooking greens, chard turns bitter when it gets too hot. Chard grows year-round in temperate areas, is best harvested in late summer or early fall in colder areas, and fall through spring in warmer regions.

 

Red chard growing at Slow Food Nation

Red chard growing at Slow Food Nation

Chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla), is a leafy green vegetable often used in Mediterranean cooking. The leaves can be green or reddish in color like Bib Lettuce, chard stalks also vary in color. Chard has been bred to have highly nutritious leaves at the expense of the root (which is not as nutritious as the leaves). Chard is considered to be one of the healthiest vegetables available, and is a valuable addition to a healthy diet (like other green leafy vegetables). Chard has been around for centuries, but because of its similarity to beets it is difficult to determine the exact evolution of the different varieties of chard.

 

 

Clusters of chard seeds are usually sown between April and August, depending on the desired harvesting period. Chard can be harvested while the leaves are young and tender, or after maturity when they are larger and have slightly tougher stems. Harvesting is a continuous process, as most species of chard produce three or more crops.[10] Raw chard is extremely perishable.

 

 

Cultivars of chard include green forms, such as ‘Lucullus’ and ‘Fordhook Giant’, as well as red-ribbed forms such as ‘Ruby Chard’ and ‘Rhubarb Chard’. The red-ribbed forms are very attractive in the garden, but as a rough general rule, the older green forms will tend to out-produce the colorful hybrids. ‘Rainbow Chard‘ is a mix of other colored varieties that is often mistaken for a variety unto itself.
Chard has shiny, green, ribbed leaves, with petioles that range from white to yellow to red, depending on the cultivar.
Chard is a spring harvest plant. In the Northern Hemisphere, chard is typically ready to harvest as early as April and lasts through May. Chard is one of the more hardy leafy greens, with a harvest season typically lasting longer than kale, spinach or baby greens. When day-time temperatures start to regularly hit 30 °C (86 °F), the harvest season is coming to an end.

 

 

Swiss chard on sale at an outdoor market

Swiss chard on sale at an outdoor market

Chard has a slightly bitter taste and is used in a variety of cultures around the world, including Arab cuisine.
Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked (like in pizzoccheri) or sauteed; their bitterness fades with cooking, leaving a refined flavor which is more delicate than that of cooked spinach.

 

 

Swiss chard is high in vitamins A, K and C, with a 175 g serving containing 214%, 716%, and 53%, respectively, of the recommended daily value. It is also rich in minerals, dietary fiber and protein.
All parts of the chard plant contain oxalic acid.

 

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