Also known as perpetual, mangold, crab beet, spinach beet, or silverbeet, Swiss chard is a leafy vegetable that produces fresh greens all summer long. Besides adding great beauty to your garden, it’s also an excellent source of both Vitamin A and C. If you want to get the most of your Swiss chard, then you must know how to grow and harvest it properly. Basically, chard reaches about 1-2 feet in height and can grow just about anywhere that vegetables such as lettuce will grow.
So, you may wonder: When is it the right time to harvest Swiss chard? Well, this vegetable can be harvested when the leaves are tender and young, preferably smaller than about 4 inches long or just after maturity. The beauty of it is that you can harvest the plant continually right until it frosts.
Step 1: Unlike other vegetables where you only have to snap the stem, chard requires a different way to harvest so that you can have more leaves growing afterwards. It is recommended that you pick Swiss chard by snapping right at its base.
Step 2: When you snap the stem, go ahead and separate the leaf material, removing it from the stalk. Discard the stalks if you do not like eating them, or make soup just like celery.
Step 3: You have your leaves by now, right? Well, you don’t just stop there. Continue and heat a pot of water to boil, and then submerge the chard inside the boiling water for about 3 minutes.
Step 4: After 3 minutes of boiling, remove the chard and then put the blanched leaves into a large bowl or sink of cold water in order to allow them to cool. Now grab handful of the chard and squeeze all the water out.
Step 5: The next step is shaping the blocks of chard until you get your desired shape and size. However, ensure that you get easy blocks that you can use in future.
Step 6: Put the blocks on a cookie sheet and freeze them in a freezer. Once they are fully frozen, go ahead and remove them from the sheet and then package into freezer containers. Store them in safe and dry place.
Important Things to Note
The harvesting and separation can be easy and delicate in equal measures, depending on how well you follow the procedure. It is important that you keep the following in mind:
- Always pick the chard in the morning when it is not too hot. You can also pick them in the evening when sun sets. This ensures that the leaves are fresh when you start preparing them.
- Start by picking the largest leaves first as they are the least likely to grow and the fact that they allow the small ones to soak in more sun.
- When blanching, do not heat the leaves more than the recommended time. The purpose of heating is to kill enzymes that may lead to deposition.