In our garden only leafy greens and root crops remain. The last lettuce got hit by a hard frost, the spinach was finished off in our salad last week, and arugula stands in scruffy flowering patches. Chard and kale plants, however, still tower above the sprouting cover crop of winter rye. Kale can survive very heavy frosts – even long stretches of time below freezing. We found that it actually improves, growing sweeter and more tender with frost. Chard, however, starts to brown and wilt with each new night below freezing. Now’s the time to enjoy it!
We’ve been enjoying some delicious chard quiches. In fact, we started calling them chard pies because more chard than egg ended up in the pie crust! Just use your favorite spinach quiche recipe, and substitute chard for spinach.
When I’m in the mood for a simpler chard dish, I steam chopped leaves and stems in a pot with a thin layer of water in the bottom. After it’s wilted, I drain it and toss the leaves with a splash of balsamic vinegar. Crumbled feta on top adds some creamy and salty flavors. Mmmmm.
In the end, we always have more chard than we can eat straight out of the garden. To preserve it for the winter, we harvest all the remaining healthy leaves (feeding the bottom or browning leaves to the chickens). Because we have so much volume, we compost the stems. They are good, though, so feel free to include them if you want! We chop the leaves and blanch batches of them in our largest pot. After the leaves are wilted and dark green, we remove them from the boiling water and allow to cool in a colander. After all the leaves have cooled, we squeeze out any remaining water and pack them into plastic freezer bags in portion sizes our family is likely to use in a meal. Now we’ll have plenty of tender greens all winter long.