Last week was about why Chard is a good basic in the garden; now, how to preserve it for when you don’t have any fresh.
TWO WAYS TO PROCESS CHARD FOR FUTURE USE
Do the following once a week or so, after the plants are established if you are growing it, or of course, at your convenience if buying it.
To Freeze Bring a large — or huge if needed — pot of water to a boil. It’s best to blanche in boiling water rather than steam, to be sure all leaves are evenly and briefly cooked. While the water is heating, remove the toughest part of the center by drawing a sharp knife down each side of the stem, from ⅔ of the way up the leaf. Then rest one hand on the top third of the leaf and pull the stem from the bottom. The narrow, stringy top bit of the stem will come away with the thicker part. This may sound fussy, but it’s very fast and makes all future use easier and more delectable.
When the water comes to a boil, drop in leaves — no more than 1/3 the volume of leaves to the volume of water. Keep the heat on high, let water return to a boil and then time 45 seconds. Quickly remove or drain, shock leaves in cold water to stop cooking, and drain again.
Depending on possible future uses and current amount of available time, either fold each leaf in half along the cut out stemline and then roll up into a tube that will be approximately 3-5” long and 1” diameter or, take a handful of leaves and quickly squoosh-roll into a ball, like making a snowball. Place either shape on a metal cookie sheet, leaving a little room between each, and freeze. After 6-24 hours, remove from sheets and store together in plastic bags or airtight containers in the freezer.
The individual rolls will be useful for anything, including wraps, and nori roll type fillings. The squooshed balls may also unravel intact with a little more care, and either form can be sliced thinly 5-10 minutes after removing from the freezer. Watch the clock; don’t let them thaw too much, or cutting will be messy.
To Dry Dehydrated chard is a great staple to include in soups and stews and takes so little room in storage. I’d suggest using an electric dehydrator for carefree processing, but people all over the world have and still do dehydrate food without one.
Place whole leaves in your dehydrating situation. Removing the thick stems first will allow them to dry and reconstitute more quickly, but leave the stems in if you prefer. It’s fine to stack a few layers of the leaves on each tray. After the leaves are bone dry, carefully transfer to a large bowl and crumble with your hands. Store the crumbles in airtight containers. They rehydrate and fully cook in soups, etc., within a half hour or less.
Laurie Goodhart and her husband co-founded and operated two certified organic artisanal goat fromageries, Nettle Meadow in Warrensburg, NY from 1990 to 2005 and Domaine De Courval in Waterville, Quebec from 2006 to 2017. She created and trademarked the multiple award-winning cheese, Kunik. For more about her how her life experience brought her to develop time-saving ways to eat as much nutrient-dense food from her local environment as possible, see this previous post
Goodhart lives in upstate NY and continues her work as a professional artist and avid home gardener. Since 2007 she has devoted most of her studio time to an extensive body of work collected under the concept, Remnants And Residents Of A Lost Sanctuary Of Aphrodite.
Laurie can be reached through her website, lauriegoodhart.net