How do you preserve chard leaves?

Chard is a leafy green vegetable that is packed with nutrients like vitamins A, C, and K as well as minerals like magnesium and potassium. The leaves can range in color from deep green to vibrant rainbow hues. Chard has a bitter, earthy flavor that pairs well in dishes like pastas, stews, and side dishes.

One issue with chard is that it has a short shelf life and the leaves wilt quickly after being picked. Finding ways to preserve chard leaves can help you enjoy their flavor and nutrients long after purchasing them. There are several methods for preserving chard including blanching and freezing, pickling, and dehydrating.

Why Preserve Chard?

Here are some of the top reasons for preserving chard leaves:

  • Extend shelf life – Fresh chard leaves only last around 3-5 days when refrigerated. Preserving them allows you to keep them for months.
  • Save money – Buying chard in bulk when in season and preserving the surplus can save money compared to buying smaller quantities year-round.
  • Accessibility – Having preserved chard on hand makes it easy to add to recipes all year long.
  • Retain nutrients – Properly preserving chard allows you to enjoy more of its beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants compared to fresh leaves that have wilted.
  • Enhance flavor – Some preservation methods like pickling can add flavor complexity to chard.

Knowing the best ways to preserve chard gives you access to its nutrition, taste, and versatility in the kitchen long after the growing season.

Blanching and Freezing Chard

One of the most popular ways to preserve chard is by blanching and freezing it. Here is a step-by-step guide:


  • Chard leaves and stems
  • Ice water
  • Freezer bags


  1. Start by washing the chard thoroughly under cold running water to remove any dirt or debris. Cut the leaves off the stems.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the chopped stems and boil for 2 minutes.
  3. Next, add the leaves and boil for 1 minute more until the leaves are wilted. This process is called blanching.
  4. Drain the pot and plunge the chard into a bowl of ice water. Let sit for 2 minutes. Drain again.
  5. Lay the chard leaves flat on a towel to dry them out. Once cool enough to handle, chop the leaves and stems.
  6. Portion the chard into freezer bags, removing as much air as possible before sealing. This prevents freezer burn.
  7. Label the bags with the contents and date. The chard leaves can be frozen for up to 10-12 months.

When ready to use, simply remove the desired amount of frozen chard and add while still frozen to soups, stews, casseroles, etc. The chard will defrost and cook while simmering.

Blanching before freezing helps stop the enzymes that cause loss of flavor, color, and texture. It also helps retain more of the nutrients like vitamins C and A compared to simply freezing raw.


  • Use chard as soon as possible after purchasing for best flavor and texture.
  • Make sure chard is completely dry before freezing otherwise it can clump together.
  • Portion into amounts that work for your recipes like 1 cup or 1/2 cup.
  • Squeeze out air and seal bags tightly.
  • Store frozen chard in the back of the freezer where temperature remains most consistent.

Freezing is a great way to preserve fresh chard at its peak for nutrient density and taste.

Pickling Chard

Pickling is another method for enjoying chard year-round. It adds a salty, sour, and tangy flavor. Pickled chard stems or leaves make tasty additions to salads, sandwiches, tacos, and charcuterie boards.

Here is a simple pickling recipe:


  • 1 pound chard leaves, stems removed and chopped
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Rinse the chopped chard stems and leaves and let drain.
  2. Bring the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt.
  3. Pack the chard tightly into clean glass jars or containers and add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (if using) to each jar.
  4. Pour the hot pickling liquid over the chard, covering completely. Let cool to room temperature.
  5. Refrigerate for at least 2 days before eating to allow the flavors to develop.
  6. Store in the fridge and use within 3 months.

The chard softens but retains some crunch while absorbing the briny, acidic flavors of the pickling liquid. Refrigerating stops harmful bacteria from growing.


  • Use young, tender chard leaves for the best texture.
  • Play around with different vinegars like red wine vinegar or flavored vinegars.
  • Add other spices like coriander, peppercorns, or bay leaf.
  • Make sure chard stays fully submerged in the liquid to prevent spoilage.

Pickled chard is a quick and tasty way to preserve crunchy texture and bold flavor.

Dehydrating Chard

Dehydrating removes the moisture from chard to halt bacteria growth and enzymatic reactions. It creates shelf-stable crispy chips or powdered flakes perfect for reconstituting in soups and stews.

Follow these steps to dehydrate chard:


  • Chard leaves with stems removed
  • Olive oil or cooking spray (optional)
  • Salt and seasonings of choice (optional)


  1. Start by blanching the leaves for 1 minute as this helps them dehydrate faster.
  2. Let the leaves drain and cool completely before patting dry.
  3. Lay leaves in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Spritz with cooking spray or brush lightly with olive oil to promote crisping.
  4. Sprinkle with desired seasonings like salt, garlic powder, onion powder, etc.
  5. Dehydrate at around 115°F for 12-15 hours, flipping leaves halfway through, until completely dried and crispy.
  6. Once dried, you can leave them whole as chips or crumble the leaves into flakes.
  7. Store the dried chard in airtight containers in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

Rehydrate the chard flakes by adding boiling water or vegetable broth and letting sit for 5-10 minutes before using.


  • Work in small batches for even drying.
  • Use younger, smaller leaves which dehydrate faster than older, larger leaves.
  • If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use an oven on its lowest setting with the door propped open.
  • Check on the leaves often to prevent scorching.

Dehydrating removes moisture to make chard leaves shelf stable and perfectly crispy.

Storing Fresh Chard

In addition to preservation methods, proper storage is key to enjoying fresh chard at its best for as long as possible. Follow these tips:

  • Cut or tear leaves from the stems right after purchase and store separately.
  • Wrap stems in damp paper towels and refrigerate in a plastic bag.
  • Layer leaves between dry paper towels before refrigerating in a vented container.
  • Use chard within 3-5 days for maximum freshness.
  • Look for crisp, bright colored leaves avoiding any yellowing or sliminess.
  • Wash just before use by swishing in cold water rather than soaking to prevent moisture loss.

Proper storage keeps fresh chard crisp and flavorful for use in raw and cooked dishes. Combine it with preservation techniques to enjoy chard year-round.

Comparison of Preservation Methods

Here is a helpful table comparing the different chard preservation techniques:

Method Prep Time Equipment Needed Shelf Life Best Uses
Blanching & Freezing Medium Pot, ice water, freezer bags 10-12 months Soups, stews, smoothies
Pickling Medium Pot, jars 3 months refrigerated Salads, sandwiches, snacks
Dehydrating High Dehydrator, oven 1 year Reconstituted dishes, chips

As you can see, each method comes with different benefits and applications for enjoying chard year-round. Consider which works best for your needs and preferences.

Storing Preserved Chard

To get the most out of your preserved chard, be sure to store it properly:

  • Frozen chard – Keep frozen at 0°F or below. Avoid temperature fluctuations which lead to ice crystals and texture damage. Place in the back of the freezer.
  • Pickled chard – Refrigerate fully submerged in brine in a clean, covered container. Keep monitoring for signs of spoilage like unpleasant odors, sliminess, or mold.
  • Dehydrated chard – Store in a cool, dark place in airtight containers. Avoid humidity which can cause clumping. Keep checking for visible moisture or spotting of mold.

Following the right storage methods prevents waste and protects the safety and quality of your preserved chard.

Troubleshooting Preservation Issues

Though preserving chard is generally safe when done properly, you may occasionally run into issues. Here is how to troubleshoot common problems:

Frozen Chard Problems

  • Texture damage – Freezer burn or ice crystals. Make sure to blanch, dry chard fully, and squeeze out air before sealing bags.
  • Unpleasant flavor – Can result from old leaves or absorbing freezer odors. Use chard soon after purchase.
  • Clumping – Due to moisture. Blot leaves completely dry before freezing.

Pickled Chard Problems

  • Soft texture – From over-brining. Reduce brine time to under 1 week.
  • Hollow stems – Cutting too far up the stems. Trim off upper 2 inches of stems before pickling.
  • Cloudy brine – Due to yeast growth. Use sterilized jars and refrigerate after opening.

Dehydrated Chard Problems

  • Mold growth – Due to inadequate drying or humidity exposure. Dehydrate leaves fully until brittle before storage.
  • Browning – Can occur if dehydrated at temperatures above 115°F. Keep temperature low.
  • Sliminess – Indicator of spoilage from moisture. Store in air-tight containers.

Catching and troubleshooting issues early allows you to still safely enjoy your preserved chard. Always discard any chard that shows signs of spoilage.

Recipes Using Preserved Chard

Here are some recipe ideas that let you enjoy the preserved chard you worked to store:

Frozen Chard

  • Creamy chard and white bean soup
  • Chicken pot pie with chard
  • Chard omelet or frittata
  • Pasta in creamy chard sauce
  • Chard, sweet potato, and quinoa bowl

Pickled Chard

  • Pickled chard stem “crudités”
  • Chard stem and chickpea salad
  • Pickled chard leaf wraps with hummus and veggies
  • Rainbow chard stem sandwich slaw
  • Pickled chard pizza topping

Dehydrated Chard

  • Minestrone soup with chard flakes
  • Tortilla soup with rehydrated chard
  • Chard chips
  • Chard powder seasoning blend
  • Rehydrated chard scrambled with eggs

Get creative with ways to incorporate your preserved chard into nutritious and delicious recipes!


Preserving chard by blanching and freezing, through pickling, or using a dehydrator provides you with tasty and nutritious chard year-round. Each method comes with its own advantages. Freezing retains texture and nutrients well. Pickling adds tangy flavor. And dehydrating creates long-lasting crunchy chips or flakes.

Proper storage of each type of preserved chard avoids spoilage and damage. Troubleshooting texture or flavor issues quickly can allow you to still safely enjoy your labor of preservation. Incorporate your preserved chard into a wide variety of everyday recipes.

With the crisp texture and slightly bitter, earthy flavor of chard, it offers a unique addition to any plate. Follow these tips to select the best preservation method for you and safely enjoy chard all year long.

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