Cappers Farmer Blogs > Old Dog, New Tricks

Swiss Chard

Mary ConleyNow why would any elderly woman want her blog called "Old Dog, New Tricks? Well, I'm not sure I'm fond of that name, but I am happy with how it came about. When we started changing the way we did things in our city yard, and then bought our little farm, I was constantly learning and doing new things. I was daily searching the web and reading the gardening and country magazines. It was amazing how our lives changed, and it was so much fun! Larry and I weren't one of those old couples sitting across the table from one another with blank faces and nothing to talk about. Nope! We were really living and learning. So, when I couldn't come up with a name for my blog and enlisted help, my daughter, Amy, thought "Old Dog, New Tricks" was appropriate.

Why am I telling you this now? Well, my back surgery this spring almost put a stop to the learning and doing of "new" things. Almost! After each of the past several blog posts, I would tell Larry that I didn't have anything to write about, and it possibly might be my last. He got so he rolled his eyes and said, "How many times have I heard that?" This last time, though, I think he believed me. Then, yesterday, I remembered about the Swiss chard. Don't laugh! It was new to me this season, and I want to tell you about it.

Swiss chard

Swiss chard

In the spring, I wrote a post on "Planting for my Vitamix" and explained that I had planted Swiss chard for the first time. Its leaves are green with red veins and are quite similar to beet leaves only larger. I have an abundance and the bugs don't seem to bother it. I was disappointed, though, that I couldn't seem to find smoothy recipes that contained chard, and then I discovered I could throw a few torn leaves into any of my regular fruit smoothies without noticing a difference in the flavor. I love adding the extra nutrition from those fresh greens!

blanching Swiss chard

Blanching the Swiss chard.

I also read how to freeze chard for later use in casseroles and soups. My granddaughter, Katie, picked it for me as I still wasn't allowed to bend that far, and then we cleaned and blanched it in boiling water. If you've ever cooked fresh spinach and watched it practically disappear, you'll know what happened to the chard. After cooling it in ice water, we squeezed all the extra moisture out and packed it into rounds about the size of golf balls. The instructions said to make squares the size of a deck of cards, but I wasn't sure how much I wanted to use at once, and we decided I could always use two if needed.

freezing Swiss chard

We froze the balls individually, and then bagged them. How fun to learn something new, and with Katie!

Helpful hint: Did you know that when you pick and clean your lettuces, if you soak them about 10 minutes or so in water with a little vinegar, it will kill the germs, plus all the little critters turn loose? I think that is so freeing if you are like me and worry about whether you've cleaned them enough. And, there is no vinegar aftertaste. I also do that with the strawberries, raspberries, mulberries, and blackberries.

When Katie and I went to make kale chips, we discovered bug eggs on the back of the leaves. I wondered if the kale was still usable, so I soaked a couple in the water/vinegar solution and the eggs floated right off! It's a good thing to know, don't you think? We decided the kale was clean, and that we could eat it even though we had seen the eggs. Of course, we didn't tell the guys about it, and they thought the chips were great!

Happy harvesting!