Magical chard stems have just as much flavour as the leaves. Lucy Burton shares her recipe for pickled rainbow stems
Luscious, sturdy chard is a staple of many vegetable patches. Adaptable to a range of soil acidities and resilient to winters’ frost, chard flourishes throughout the year, and does not have a set season of bloom. Instead, most plants yield three or four harvest per annum, making chard a reliable stalwart that can be cooked with all year round.
Rainbow chard, which grows in majestic, glossy hues of pink, orange, yellow, red and white, has a fragrant and rich flavour, which holds its own when married with other distinctive ingredients. While the leaves respond best to simply cookery – quickly sautéed in butter and finished with a sprinkling of sea salt – the stems benefit from a little more love. Pickling is a wonderful way to bring bold flavour to these gorgeous vegetables.
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The below quantities are enough to fill one regular jam jar, but could easily be doubled if you have a larger crop. Serve with pulled pork or, if you’re feeling brave, the first barbecue of the year.
200g rainbow chard stems
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp pink peppercorns
120ml apple cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
Before you begin, you should sterilise your jars. Fill your jars with water and place in a medium oven for 10-15 minutes. Carefully pour away the water, and dry thoroughly with a clean tea towel.
Begin by preparing the chard. Trim away any rough ends of fragments of leaf, then cut into even batons of around 4cm in length.
To make the pickling liquor, put the apple cider vinegar, water, sugar and salt into a small saucepan. Bring the contents to the boil, stirring occasionally, boiling until the sugar has dissolved.
Put the mustard seeps and peppercorns into the jar, then arrange the chard stems. Try to pack them as closely and neatly as you can.
Pour the brine over the chard, filling to the top of the jar. Seal and allow to pickle for 3-4 days before serving.
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