I love my rainbow chard, it adds a little carnival feel to my veggie garden and it lasts and lasts many pickings. Alas, one day I go to harvest a few more leaves and I notice they are becoming smaller and less prolific as the plant comes to the end of it’s productive life. I finally pull them from the ground and the roots are massive and gnarled after a year of giving.
After picking the leaves there is still a mass of tender young stems and I use these for a quick water ferment. I thank preserving queen Leda Meredith for this beyond simple recipe to which I have added a few variations of my own.
Fermented Chard Stalks
Ruby chard or rainbow chard stems
Filtered, spring or rainwater (must not contain chlorine, it kills the good bugs!)
- Choose a size jar that will fit the stems so that they are packed in well.
- Wash then cut the chard stems into lengths that will fit the jar longways leaving at least 5cm at the top.
- Fill the jar with water ensuring the top of the stems is covered by at least 5cm of water.
- Leave the jar on your kitchen bench overnight and then check for signs of fermentation – some bubbling or clear foam.
- Let the chard ferment for between 1 – 3 days. It should have a sweet/sour smell that is not offensive. You will need to keep the water topped up so that the stems are not exposed to air. You will also have to release any fermentation gases – once or twice a day.
- Within 1 – 3 days, when the ferment is ifinished to your taste transfer to the fridge where it will stay fresh for up to three months.
- A little dark discolouration to the top of the stems is not unusual however try to keep them submerged under the water after they have been opened.
To preserve the probiotic content of the stems it is best they are used with cold dishes. They make a wonderfully colourful topping for salads, especially those that contain lots of deep greens such as silverbeet, kale, beetroot leaves and oakleaf lettuce.
Hi Sarah, what are the benefits of doing this? Is It just a way to soften the stems so they’re more edible? Or is the nutritional value enhanced?
Hi Monica! The stems are pretty ordinary on their own, the ferment gives them a light tang, introduces some probiotics and breaks down the cellular structure a little enhancing their digestability.
you forgot the sea salt!
Hi Kim, I included this recipe on the blog because I found it intriguing as it is a straight water ferment, there is no salt! Hence the short fermentation time of 24-72 hours and the need to refrigerate the stems after the intial ferment. I had exactly the same thought when I first read the recipe, I was sceptical when I first attempted it however I really admire the preservation techniques of Leda Meredith and this one did not dissapoint, it worked a treat!