Yesterday I scored a ridiculous amount of Spring bounty at the farmer’s market: asparagus and rhubarb, yes, but also ramps & fiddleheads, rainbow chard & curly kale, scallions, parsley & cilantro, two kinds of radishes (and of course the usual potatoes, onions and carrots). In addition to all that, thanks to Madura Farms’ greenhouses, I picked up the first Kirby cucumbers of the year, not to mention eggs, bread, butter, pork shoulder and sausage. Phew! I could barely stuff it all into the fridge yesterday afternoon (thank goodness for 2-gallon Ziplocs!) so I decided that today was destined to be not a Day of Rest, but a Day of Preserving: Preservapalooza Sunday was born.
The kale was blanched, shocked and frozen: perfect timing as we just used up the last bag of frozen kale on Thursday night. Four pounds of Kirby cucumbers were scrubbed, trimmed and submerged in brine in the big, red pickling bowl to ferment: Tai will be thrilled to have some of my Garlicky Dill Pickles again. Asparagus was blanched, shocked & trimmed: the tip halves were pickled while the stem halves were sliced & frozen. The bright pink stems of the monster rainbow chard I brought home were far too gorgeous to discard, hence I Googled around for pickled chard recipes and found this one, from the Gramercy Tavern, published only a couple of weeks ago in the NY Times.
The recipe is for a quick refrigerator pickle and if there was currently any room in the fridge, that is probably what I would do, as my monster chard netted me 1 pint of pickles. I used the same brine to pickle a pint of asparagus, however, and processed them both in a boiling water bath for pantry storage. I did futz with the recipe a bit: upping the spices, lowering the sugar, etc. I’ll let these marinate for a couple of weeks and then report back on the taste.
Preserving season is here! Next up: rhubarb? Radishes? Ramps? Oh, my!
Pickled Chard Stems
- 2 large bunches chard stems (leaves removed)
- 1 cup rice wine vinegar (at least 5% acidity if canning)
- 1/2 cup white vinegar (at least 5% acidity if canning)
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp pickling salt
- 1/4 tsp coriander seed
- 1/4 tsp fennel seed
- 1/4 tsp black peppercorn
- 1/4 tsp yellow mustard seed
- If canning, prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Scrub chard stems, trim the ends, and slice any bits of leaf off of the edges with a sharp knife. Slice into batons, the height of your jar minus 1/2-inch for headspace (line one measured baton up on your cutting board to use as a template). Slice larger stems in half, or in thirds, lengthwise, if needed, such that each pickle is approximately the same size.
- Combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt and spices in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar and salt.
- Stack chard stems into hot, sterilzed jars and cover with brine, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe rim, affix lid and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (alternatively, you can store these pickles in the fridge for about 1 month).
Yields about 2 pints pickles.
- The original recipe called for 1 and 1/2 cups rice wine vinegar; I ran out, so substituted 1/2 cup of white vinegar. Feel free to use all rice wine vinegar; double-check, however, that it is at least 5% acidity if you plan on canning.
- I also cut the sugar in half and increased the salt by 1/2 tbsp from the original recipe; just because I’m a salty girl.
- This is a great easy pickle for when you have a monster bunch of chard and don’t want to simply discard the stems. Don’t feel you have to bust out the canner and water-bath process; these will keep in the fridge for some time. If you decide not to process, a quick blanche & shock of the chard stems prior to jarring may extend your refrigerated shelf-life.
If canned, store at cool room temperature, away from light, for up to 1 year. If refrigerated, use within 1 month.
Chard likes cool, crisp weather, so most farmers plant at least two crops yearly: spring and fall.