Have you ever wondered what to do with the stalks of swiss chard? While adding them to a Zero Waste Vegetable Broth, eating them raw like celery or chopping them up to cook with the leaves are all options, here’s a new one: you can ferment them into pickles! Not only do the fermented stalks taste delicious, but they are also a great source of probiotics! Lacto-fermentation may seem like a scary process but it is actually relatively easy. The only equipment you need is a wide-mouth pint sized jar with a lid, a kitchen scale and a plastic ziplock bag.
This recipe is part of our Zero Waste Cooking series created by our 2020 nutrition intern Jessica Bruggens.
Pickled Swiss Chard Stalks
- One bunch of swiss chard stalks/stems, halved with greens and damaged ends removed
- 1 clove of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2-3 small stems of dill
- Whole spices (black pepercorns, corriander seed, etc.), optional
- Water to fill the jar
First, add empty jar to a scale and tare/zero it. Leave the jar on the scale and add the garlic, dill and optional spices. Next, place the chard stalks in the jar upright and cut off any stalks that are within one inch of the top of the jar. When fully packed the stalks should be snug and difficult to move. Putting the herbs and spices in first holds them in place so they do not rise to the top of the jar once the water is added.
Add water to completely cover the chard stalks. At this point note the weight on the scale. Take that weight and multiply it by 2.5%. This number is the amount of salt needed. Add the salt to the jar.
Weight of food and water = 410 g
410 g X 0.025 = 10.25 g
Therefore you need to add 10.25 g of salt.
Add salt to the jar with water and food on the scale until it reaches 420.25 g or 421 g if your scale only reads whole numbers (always round up).
NOTE: The water needs to contain 2.5% of salt by weight to provide the right environment for fermentation. Reducing the amount of salt will make this recipe unsafe to eat.
Next, put the lid on the jar and gently shake the jar until the salt looks completely dissolved. Open the jar to ensure that none of the herbs, spices, or chard stalks are above the water level. Any food that is floating or sticking out of the water will mold. If anything is floating you can place a small ziplock bag with some water in it inside the top of the jar to ensure everything remains under the water level.
Loosely screw on the lid so gases can escape or leave the lid off if you had to add the bag. Set the jar in a cool dark place and allow to ferment for 7 days. Check daily (but do not disturb the jar) for mold or floaters. Store in the fridge for upto 3 months. Enjoy as a snack or with a meal! If the stalks are too salty for your taste, you can rinse them under water before consuming.