Pickled Chard Stems

Photo by  Zachary Cross

Photo by Zachary Cross

My photographer is beginning his journey home today. For fabulous photos from his trip you can check out his flickr or Instagram

This week I have another chard stem recipe for you. There are many chard recipes on the blog for both leaves and stems. One of the things I love about chard is how pretty it is, and this recipe keeps the color of the chard bright, instead of fading from cooking. There are quite a few recipes for chard pickles online but I wanted fermented pickles, not vinegar pickles. 

I finally found one I liked the looks of on the blog Affairs of Living. I only made a few changes: I did not add juniper berries or bay leaf and I added the suggested fresh ginger. I wanted to keep the color bright, too, so I used a more refined sugar. I also reviewed Laura Robinson's tips on lacto-fermented foods on Tant Hill's blog that I've found helpful in the past. Affairs of Living has a post on it as well. 

Pickled Chard Stems
From Affairs of Living

yield 1 quart

This is a recipe in progress - I think the addition of slightly more palm sugar along with additional spices like cardamom, ginger, cinnamon, or star anise would really make it pop. However, it was really delicious as I made it. Feel free to follow my recipe to the letter, or make changes as you see fit. Enjoy!
stems from 2-3 big bunches of chard (it depends on the size of your stems)

1 1/2-2 cups water
1 1/2 Tbsp unrefined sea salt
2 Tbsp evaporated palm sugar, or other natural sweetener like date sugar, maple sugar, or coconut sugar (or more, for a sweeter pickle)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp coriander seed
5 juniper berries
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
optional: cardamom seed, star anise, stick cinnamon, and/or sliced fresh ginger
1 1-quart glass canning jar
Clean jar well with hot soapy water, or better yet, sterilize with boiling water.  Set aside.
Strip leaves from chard stems (wrap up leaves and save for other meals).  Wash stems well and pick off any remaining bits of leaf.  Trim off the bottom and the skinny little tips, then slice chard stems to 3-4" lengths, or just slightly shorter than the height of your jar.  Place spices and bay leaf at the bottom of the jar, then pack in cut stems firmly, leaving about 1" of free space at the top of the jar.  Dissolve salt and sugar in 1 1/2 cups of water, and pour over stems, adding additional water as necessary to cover, still leaving about 1" of free space at the top. Cover tightly, place on a dish to catch any drips, and let sit at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 3-4 days.  
Open jar after 3-4 days and try a stem.  It should tasty salty, sweet, sour, and "pickled". If it isn't sour enough to your liking, place over back on and ferment another day or two.  Once pickles are done, place in refrigerator and store there for up to 6 months. Always use a clean, non-metal utensil to retrieve pickles from jar in order to keep it uncontaminated. Flavor will get better with age.  
After pickles are gone, leftover brine can be used to make flavorful sauces, salad dressings, and marinades, or added to other batches of cultured vegetables.

rintable recipe here

Photo by Heather Cross

Photo by Heather Cross

Heather Cross