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Turn discarded stems into colorful refrigerator pickles

Recipe: Rainbow chard stalks produce a pretty snack

Red chard stems and spices are covered in brine, ready to chill in the refrigerator.

Red chard stems and spices are covered in brine, ready to chill in the refrigerator.

Kathy Morrison

In my continued quest to not let anything go to waste these shelter-at-home days, I went hunting for recipes to use chard stalks. There had to be something out there that used the long, pretty, celery-like stems from my
never-say-die chard plant .

I hit on pickles, and have tried a couple of recipes now. The one here (adapted from an Epicurious recipe) is my favorite so far, with mustard seeds, coriander seeds and a shallot -- adding a lot of flavor to the gorgeous but rather bland chard stalk pieces.

These pickles aren't as fast as our blog's famous Zapped Pickles , but they still go together pretty quickly. No canning is involved, since they pop into the refrigerator, but make sure to have a sterilized pint jar ready to put them in. (The dishwasher works just fine.) Then chill and enjoy!

Refrigerator chard stem pickles

A few ingredients are all you need to make a pint of pickles.

Makes 1 pint


4 large stalks from chard, washed and trimmed
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon brown mustard seeds
1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds or caraway seeds
A couple of black peppercorns, optional
1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar (champagne vinegar, apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar also work, but avoid distilled white vinegar)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water

Instructions :

Toast the seeds before using in the pickles.

Slice the chard stems into 1/2-inch pieces, removing any outer strings that come loose as you cut. You should have about 2 cups of pieces. Combine the chard pieces with the shallot slices and the salt in a colander set in the sink or over a large bowl. Let stand 1 hour.

About 15 minutes before the chard stems are ready, toast the mustard seeds and coriander seeds (and peppercorns, if using) in a small, dry skillet over medium heat. Stir often. In about 2 minutes, the mustard seeds will start to pop open. Remove the pan from the heat before too many pop, and let the seeds cool.

To make the brine, combine the vinegar, sugar and water in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil. The sugar should dissolve quickly. Remove pan from heat.

After cooling the brine-covered pickles for a few minutes,
cover them and refrigerate overnight.

Rinse the chard stems/shallot combination well, and drain well. Pack the stems, shallots and cooled seeds in a sterilized (washed in hot soapy water or in dishwasher) pint jar. Pour the brine into the jar over the vegetables. Let the mixture cool slightly, then cover the jar with a tight-fitting lid and place it in refrigerator. Chill overnight before serving. Gently shake the jar occasionally, if you think of it, but that's not a must.

The pickles will keep in the refrigerator about a month. If you used red chard stems, the lovely color will fade eventually, but the pickles likely will be consumed before that happens.


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A recipe for preparing delicious meals from the bounty of the garden.


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For week of Oct. 1:

Make the most of this cooler weather. Get to work on your fall garden:

* October is the best month to plant trees, shrubs and perennials. Plants become established – sending down deep, strong roots – faster in warm soil.

* Divide and replant perennials. Add a little well-aged compost and bone meal to the planting hole, but hold off on other fertilizers until spring. Keep the transplants well-watered (but not wet) for the first month as they become settled.

* Now is the time to plant seeds for many flowers directly into the garden, including cornflower, nasturtium, nigella, poppy, portulaca, sweet pea and stock.

* Plant seeds for radishes, bok choy, mustard, spinach and peas.

* Plant garlic and onions.

* Set out cool-weather bedding plants, including calendula, pansy, snapdragon, primrose and viola.

* Reseed and feed the lawn. Work on bare spots.

* Dig up corms and tubers of gladioli, dahlias and tuberous begonias after the foliage dies. Clean and store in a cool, dry place.

* Treat azaleas, gardenias and camellias with chelated iron if leaves are yellowing between the veins.

* Clean up the summer vegetable garden and compost disease-free foliage.

* Harvest pumpkins and winter squash.

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