Those big savoyed greens can brighten up any vegetable garden with their colourful stalks. Ranked first-class in the nutrition department, from stalk to leaf, they intrigue the palate. Want to know a few more interesting things about Swiss chard? Here are 7 facts you might not already know:
1. Swiss chard and beets share the same classification: Beta vulgaris. Though beet greens are delicious, beets are usually cultivated for their roots while Swiss chard is cultivated for its leaves.
2. Surprisingly, Swiss chard did NOT originate in Switzerland. Swiss chard’s place of origin is Sicily, Italy. Legend has it that a Swiss botanist was responsible for determining the scientific name and ‘Swiss’ stuck.
3. Swiss chard is a descendant of the wild beet. The will plant grows along the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts of Europe and North Africa and is known as the sea beet.
4. Swiss chard is the queen of nicknames. White beet, strawberry spinach, sea kale beet, leaf beet, Sicilian beet, spinach beet, Chilean beet, Roman kale, and silver beet, just to name a few.
5. Bitterness comes from the stalk. Bitterness is caused by the organic compound found in many vegetables, oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is found in the stalk of Swiss chard and can be removed all together or cooked out. When cooked, the vegetable loses the bitter flavour and makes for a more refined taste.
6. Swiss chard was a medicine in ancient times. It was used to treat allergies, constipation, and general pain. The leafy greens are extremely high in vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants. No wonder it was considered medicine. This nutrition combo makes for a good dose of healthy digestion, eyes, skin, heart, and immune function.
7. Swiss chard plants can grow up to 2 feet high! That’s a lot of bang for your buck and worth every colourful inch.
Now that you have an abundance of Swiss chard and fun facts to go with it. You may be looking for some ideas to use it all up. One of our favourite ways to cook with Swiss chard is to add it to dips. Just like this Swiss Chard Baba Ganoush we whipped up.
Remember, remove the mid rib to reduce bitterness but also save it! You can pickle, juice, or make soup stock with the stalks. Wash the greens only right before you are preparing your chard to avoid premature wilting.