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“Pickled Swiss Chard”

On a scale of 1-5, how ambitious were you with your garden this year?

I started out extremely ambitious. Like, I’m-the-best-farmer-in-the-world-ambitious.

Then I had my ego handed to me on a platter made of corn stalk nubs, meticulously gnawed down by the chipmunks.

But there were a few successes. In fact, there were many in the end. It just required a lot of weeding.

A lot of weeding.

A lot of weeding.

I-caved-and-hired-help weeding.

But there was some success.

Like this beautiful thing. This basket of fuchsia sticks. Also known as Swiss chard stems.

At the end of every season I like to preserve the end of summer for those cold winter months when a basket of fuchsia sticks seems like an impossible dream.

Here is how I preserved these particular fuchsia sticks… and helped keep their color in the process.

Pickling is such a forgiving thing. It can take on so many flavors and colors, depending on your whim. You can even experiment with interesting vinegars.

The stems are what you pickle on Swiss chard. The leaves you freeze or sauté and enjoy for dinner.

You cut them and trim them into 1.5-2 inch pieces, because that is the size that I think goes well on a plate of paté and cheeses. But you can really cut them to whatever length you desire.

Step 1 – Pour in your vinegar.

Step 2 – Pour in your sugar and salt.

Step 3 – Pour in your mustard seed…

…your coriander…

…your black pepper…

Step 4 – And then there is of course the important matter of beets.

Just like the turmeric I used in my pickled turnips not too long ago to dye them… here I used the bodacious beet.

I love dying with natural foods. Did I ever tell you that I used to paint with wild berries and crushed grass as my ink? When I was a wee thing. Or maybe not so wee.

Once the liquid goes from cold to hot and back to barely warm, that is when you add your swiss chard stems. This way, they will never turn brown from the vinegar, but rather maintain their beautiful color and marry with the beets.

It’s a wonderful marriage indeed. Have you spent any time preserving or pickling lately? There’s nothing like a good pickled thing in December. Amen.

“Pickled Swiss Chard”

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 cups

“Pickled Swiss Chard”


  • 4 cups swiss chard stems, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups white or rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seed
  • 1 medium red beet, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks


  1. Place all ingredients - except the chard stems - in a large pot and bring to boil. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
  2. Add the chard stems and store in mason jars or other airtight containers in the refrigerator. If you so desire, you can process the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes to preserve them for storage outside of the fridge. Consult a canning guide for these steps.

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  1. I wish I had a good place to garden!……..our yard just isn’t good for it.

    but my do your pictures look DELICIOUS Georgia!!

  2. Beautiful Georgia!

    I should’ve hired someone to come help weed. Ours was a horrible mess by halfway through the summer, pitiful, but bountiful at the same time.

  3. Brilliant idea! Unfortunately I don’t have much of a garden at all this year as I’m in an apartment with nothing but a small concrete slab outside my door (bonus: no weeding!). But I do have some herbs, both inside and out, and I’m lucky to have friends and family with abundant gardens nearby. I’m going to pass this post along to my dad who always grows lots of chard. It was so great to finally meet in person – hopefully we’ll make it to Austin soon and we’ll be able to chat a bit more.

    • It was so great to meet you as well! AND… I was thinking that the rainbow Swiss chard I see at Whole Foods and elsewhere would be pretty beautiful pickled… if you can’t get any from the locals :) Please come to Austin soon! It would be so fun.

  4. I love pickled everything so this is going to the top of my to list. I will use the leaves in this weekends soup! Yum!

  5. I need to get some jars and get to pickling. I haven’t tried it before!

  6. You are a brilliant girl! Love the way you think.

  7. I only wish I had the land for a garden, for now I rely on the small herbs and citrus trees I have in pots in the backyard.

  8. Hey, it never even dawned on me that you could pickle swiss chard! Love the stuff, usually just sauté the greens, but apparently I need to change that ;)

  9. I need a hired weeder!
    And I have to admit I have never had swiss chard…you are expanding my horizons!

  10. What, WHAT?!? I’ve done a LOT of things with chard, but it’s never dawned on me to pickle it. I’ve GOTTA try this…

  11. I love this idea and I have lots of Swiss chard stems in the fridge!

  12. What gorgeous chard, Georgia! This recipe looks fabulous!

  13. Funny how similar swiss chard looks to rhubarb! love this fabulous way of preserving not only the pretty pink stalks but the every important color…

  14. I love the idea that you can pickle it and keep that wonderful rich colour!