Swiss chard, also known as silver beet or by its scientific name “Beta vulgaris” is a very healthy leafy green packed with fiber, vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K, minerals such as magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, copper, zinc, and important antioxidants such as lutein. It makes the perfect alternative to spinach, broccoli, or cabbage.
Swiss chard health benefits include the following:
- Consumption of Swiss chard leads to burning as many calories as are gained through consumption, making it a net zero calorie food. The food also contains no fat and almost zero carbohydrate.
- The vitamin C present in Swiss chard counters free radicals and prevents oxidation of the cholesterol, preventing plaque build up in arteries.
- Among the many other health benefits include improved lever activity, better bone density, antioxidant protection and immunity benefits, better energy, anti-inflammatory benefits, and preventing slow down of memory functions.
Now, let’s learn how to cook Swiss chard.
Image Credit: wikimedia commons/Mike Peel
Swiss Chard Consumption
The most popular method of Swiss chard preparation is cooking. Steaming preserves nutrients the most, while frying causes maximum loss of nutrients. The ruby red broth that results from cooking Swiss chard is, nevertheless, nutrition-dense and a popular flavoring agent for soup, chili, or gravy.
Swiss chard is perishable and fades after a few days. Refrigerating Swiss chard in its raw form extends the shelf life to a few weeks. Beyond that, it loses its flavor and texture. The best way to preserve Swiss chard for extended periods of up to a year is by freezing after cooking.
Cooking Swiss Chard for Freezing
Cooking Swiss chard for storage is easy, and entails the following eight steps.
- Remove the stems from the leaves as they do not freeze well.
- Rinse the leaves (one bunch, about 1 lb portion) thoroughly in water to remove all dirt and impurities.
- Chop up the rinsed leaves into any preferred size, ideally bite size pieces of one or two inches.
- Put the chopped leaves into a pan of boiling water, with the water fully submerging the leaves.
- Boil for two minutes. It is better to cook lightly for studies show that heat diminishes possible anti-cancer properties.
- Blanch the boiled Swiss chard by draining the water and placing it atop ice water until the leaves cool down. Blanching stops the maturing process caused by the natural enzymes present in the vegetable, thereby preventing off coloring, off flavoring, and toughening during storage.
- Remove as much water as possible.
- Place the Swiss chard in sealed quart freezer bags and seal the bags and lay the bags flat until frozen.
The Swiss chard is now ready to enjoy for up to a year.
Thawing and Preparing Frozen Swiss chard
The thawed Swiss chard will be soft and mushy.
How to cook Swiss chard after thawing it?
Simmer in very low heat for 10 to 30 minutes, along with other ingredients in the menu of the dish. Adding an acidic ingredient such as lemon juice or vinegar brightens the color. Quick boiling, in contrast to steaming or healthy sauté, helps free the oxalic acids and makes the chard sweeter, but compromises some of the health benefits such as removing antioxidants that prevent cholesterol build-up or fighting cancer.
A cooking tip is not to cook Swiss chard in aluminum pots, since the oxalates react with aluminum and cause the pot to discolor.
The George Mateljan Foundation. Swiss chard. Retrieved from: https://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=16