Pickled Swiss Chard Stems

These colorful “kitchen scraps” get a second look in a sweet and spicy recipe.
Pickled Swiss Chard Stems

Pickled Swiss Chard Stems

Pickled Swiss chard stems are flavorful and have a celery-style crunch.

Photo by: Photo by Mick Telkamp

Photo by Mick Telkamp

Pickled Swiss chard stems are flavorful and have a celery-style crunch.

Popular in Mediterranean cuisine, Swiss chard is a leafy beet green often grouped with spinach and kale. In recent years, the beet green with the colorful stem has shown up in CSA boxes and the ease with which it grows in a variety of environments has increased its use in home gardens. A nutritional powerhouse packed with potassium, vitamins A, vitamin C, iron and dietary fiber, Swiss chard is used like other greens. Swiss chard is easy to identify by brightly colored stems of bright red, orange, or pink.

Despite their good looks, the vibrant stems are all too often believed to be inedible (or even poisonous) and are discarded after the leaves have been stripped. Before you take out the trash, it may be time to give Swiss chard stems a second look.

Swiss chard stems are tougher than the leaves, but are milder than the leaves and can add great flavor and visual appeal wherever they are used. Roasted, fried or used in soups or stir frys, Swiss chard stems are an unexpected pleasure. And, of course, we can pickle that.

Our recipe for pickled Swiss chard stems takes advantage of the crisp texture and natural sweetness to produce a sweet and spicy pickle with unbeatable crunch. Cut into 2” lengths, the stems can be enjoyed as a snack that lies somewhere between celery and pickled beets. Chopped up, chard stems add sweet and sour crunch and a splash of color to salads or sandwiches.

These refrigerator style “quickles” take about 20 minutes to prepare and reach their peak in just a day or two. Sweet, spicy and oh so colorful. Not bad for kitchen scraps.

Pickled Swiss Chard Stems

Makes 2 pints

  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed
  • 2 dried chile peppers
  • 1 pound Swiss chard stems

To make brine, combine vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a small saucepan, bring to boil then remove from heat.

Place 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds, 1/2 teaspoon celery seed and one dried chile pepper in each of two 1 pint jars.

Cut Swiss chard stems into two inch lengths or chop and pack into jars.

Pour brine over stems in jars to completely cover.

Cap and store refrigerated pickles for up to 3 weeks.

Pickled Swiss chard stems will reach best flavor after at least a day or two in the fridge.

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