Chard is a green leafy vegetable that is known by several different names. The most commonly used name for this vegetable is Swiss Chard. This name was invented by the seed catalog companies of the 19th century, as a way of distinguishing chard leaves from those of spinach. It was a Swiss botanist that gave it the name “chard”, which is where this part of the name comes from. Other names for chard include Silverbeet, Perpetual Spinach and Mangold.
When chard is used for its leaves, it is of the same variety of garden vegetable as beet. It is a very popular vegetable in Mediterranean cooking. The leaves can be harvested while the plant is young or after it is fully grown. The adult plants have very long leaves and tough stems. This plant will not grow in an ordinary garden, as it needs alkali soil in order to sprout. It is also very perishable and cannot withstand very harsh weather conditions.
The leaves of chard are shiny, green and ribbed. The stems can be white, yellow and red. This vegetable is commonly used in salads of raw vegetables. It does have a slightly. bitter taste. When the mature leaves and stems are cooked or sautéed, this reduces some of the bitterness.
Chard is a very nutritious vegetable. In fact, it was prized in ancient Rome and Greece for its medicinal qualities. It is an excellent source of iron, Vitamin C and magnesium. The summer months of July and August are the best times for growing this plant, but there are some hardy varieties that can be grown over the winter months where the temperature does not get really cold.
Notice the color of the leaves before you start to cook or eat the chard. If they are brown or yellowish, you should throw them away. This color means they have wilted. When you store chard, do not wash it before you put it away. The excess moisture will cause it to wilt. You should store it in the refrigerator in a plastic bag, but for no longer than 2 – 3 days. After that time it will start to wilt.