Chard, chard, perry, whatever the name we give it, this vegetable is not always unanimous. Often through ignorance … However, it has many strengths!
Swiss chard identity card
La blette (Beta vulgaris var. cycle) is a vegetable plant rustic ancient which belongs to the Chenopodiaceae family (as beet Where spinach).
Cultivated since Antiquity in the Mediterranean basin, its status has changed over the centuries: from vegetable unattractive to the Greeks and Romans, it became an essential ingredient in medieval vegetable soup (porée) thanks to its leaves. Then it evolves and highlights its cards, which have become larger, white or colored.
In the 19th century, it was a fashionable vegetable: there are up to 10 varieties. But with the arrival of the 20th century, it falls into oblivion. Today, there is a real resurgence of interest in this forgotten vegetable and new varieties and new cultivars are appearing.
Varieties of chard
‘Green with white cards’: unavoidable variety old and precocious, with tender, wide and white ribs.
‘Green to cut’ (Swiss chard-spinach): Long and very thin cards bearing soft green leaves which are harvested as the growth and requirements grow.
‘Lucullus’ : early variety with broad white and firm ribs and light, very embossed leaves. Renowned for its flavor.
‘Red Rhubarb Chard’ : variety with bright red cards (the color disappears when cooked), rather thin, and green leaves with red nuances. Excellent flavor.
‘Bright yellow’ : beautiful variety with relatively large, bright yellow cards and green leaves.
Swiss chard season
Chard is a vegetable that accepts many growing conditions, so it can be found on the shelves almost all year. However, its full natural season is between June to November.
How to choose your chard?
Chard is generally sold in bundles. Pay attention: bright colors and the absence of spots and marks on the ribs and leaves, firm ribs and un-torn leaves are signs of freshness. Leave aside the chard with wilted leaves and soft chard: they were picked up several days ago.
The nutritional qualities of Swiss chard
Rich in water (95 g per 100 g of chard) *, chard is one of the lowest calorie vegetables (16.40 kcal per 100 g) *. On the other hand, it is a good source of anti-oxidants, minerals and nutrients, including:
manganese (17% VNR **), important for the preservation of bones and energy metabolism and for the protection of cells from premature aging;
the chloride, the potassium and the calcium.
Its vitamin content is also interesting, especially the vitamine A (210 µg * or 26.25% VNR) necessary for the preservation of the skin, vision and proper functioning of the immune system, followed by vitamin K1 and B9.
The same goes for his flavonoid content, especially in Swiss chard (presence of antioxidant pigments from the family betalains).
It is also recognized anti-diabetes, diuretic and laxative properties.
How to store chard?
Swiss chard hardly keeps more than 4 days in the refrigerator (without washing them, in the vegetable drawer or in a non-airtight bag). Beyond that, they soften. To best preserve the leaves, separate them from the ribs.
The leaves can be frozen after being blanched, and the ribs after being cooked.
How to cook chard?
Generally, chard, leaves and ribs are eaten cooked. This is good, the cooking not only removes the earthy taste they may have but also part of the oxalic acid they contain and which disrupts the assimilation of certain minerals.
Chard can be boiled in water, but some nutrients will disappear. For nutritional reasons, we prefer sautéed cooking (5 minutes for leaves) or steamed (20 minutes for the cards, 5 to 10 minutes for the leaves).
Some recipes to discover
The cook’s trick
To prevent chard from darkening during cooking, add a filet of lemon in the rinse water, or even in the cooking water.
Ready to grow your own chard?
The best way to make sure you’re eating fresh, seasonal chard is to grow it.
* Source nutritional composition: APRIFEL
** VNR: nutritional reference value, formerly called Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by www.aujardin.info.
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