Pickled Chard Stems

pickled chard stems / loveandlemons.com pickled chard stems / loveandlemons.com

Eat the rainbow, (and no I’m not talking about Skittles). I just love chard and I love it’s crunchy colorful stems. Although, very often, I end up with a lot of extra stem pieces. They’re way too pretty to toss so I’ve started pickling them.Β Don’t worry, this isn’t a Sunday afternoon project, these are super quick refrigerator pickles. (i.e. the kind I have patience for).

pickled chard stems / loveandlemons.com

You could slice yours into long spears, but I chop mine up (they pickle quicker that way), and them I eat them Japanese Tsukemono style – as a simple condiment with rice (or any grain), and a few vegetables.

They’re tangy and a little bit sweet – a bright little pop of color and flavor!

pickled chard stems / loveandlemons.com

pickled chard stems

Serves: 1 cup
  • about 1 cup chopped chard stems (any color)
  • salt
  • 2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
  • ¼ cup white wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons raw cane sugar
  • optional - ½ a sliced shallot
  • optional - a few pink peppercorns
  1. Chop your chard stems and sprinkle them with salt. Set aside.
  2. Toast the brown mustard seeds in a small saucepan for a minute or so (don't let them burn). Add the vinegars and sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and let the brine cool.
  3. Place the chopped stems and sliced shallot in a jar, cover them with the brine and refrigerate overnight before eating them.
  4. I like to top mine on salads or in rice (or quinoa) bowls.

adapted from bonappetit.com


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  1. Love this idea! We don’t have kale available most of the year here in Switzerland. Chard on the other hand is abundant, so I think this is such a great way to make the most of the whole plant!

    • Small yard

      I only have a few chard plants, so I only trim what I need for a meal. Does this resipe preserve the crunch of the stems? Or will it be fine if I use my now limp bunch of stems?

      • jeanine

        they stay pretty crunchy, the stems I used were pretty fresh.

  2. Ileana from alittlesaffron.com

    Those really are the prettiest pickles! Brilliant idea.

  3. We grow so much swiss chard at our farm and I have never thought to pickle the stems. You are a genius and I cannot wait to do this! Thanks for such a simple and easy pickle recipe!

  4. Jona from zeelemons.com

    So pretty! I’m gonna have to try this over the summer months- thanks!

  5. Kale is overrated in my opinion. Chard is so much more delicate. These look beautiful. Nice thing to have in the fridge for summer afternoon whiskey drinking :0.

  6. Dominika

    As far as kale, spinach, romano lettuce are higher in calcium; romano lettuce, broccoli, brussel sprouts, peas and string peas are higher in folic acid and potassium than mr kale πŸ™‚ so… yup, next time we reach for kale in the market, let’s change the direction a little bit πŸ™‚ Pickles look so yummy! Need them in my lunch salad mix asap πŸ˜€

  7. Felicia

    Would love to try this idea, but cannot eat processed sugar. Do you think I could use another sweetner? Honey? Agave? Would it work the same?

    • jeanine

      I’ve used honey and agave before – it’s not exactly the same but close enough πŸ™‚

  8. I never would have thought of pickling the stems but it makes so much sense! I’ll have to try this next time I buy chard

  9. Eileen from hampiesandwiches.blogspot.com

    This is such a great idea! I usually end up either cooking my chard stems along with the greens or throwing them into the freezer to save for vegetable stock, but pickles? YES. Must try!

  10. These sound absolutely refreshing and summery!! I love the colors, of course, but the taste must be outstanding! The vinegar with the pepper, Love!!

  11. Rainbow chard is one of my favorite veggies! This recipes looks delicious – can’t wait to try it!

  12. Kathryne from cookieandkate.com

    I’ve never seen prettier pickles! Love how you’ve preserved those gorgeous stems for later. Really smart!

  13. Alise from VogueVegetarian.com

    I love chard more than anything but I always hate throwing the stems away. This is a GREAT idea. Thank you! Do you know how long these should last in the refrigerator?

    • jeanine

      They’ll last awhile – with all the vinegar they won’t really go bad… I usually make a small-ish batch and eat them within a week.

  14. Sara from knotmydayjob.blogspot.com

    Whooo, that seems right up my alley. My garden chard is still teeny-tiny though- it’s been not quite warm in the UK this Spring. I’m bookmarking this for when I have too much to know what to do with. Cheers!

  15. amanda from easylittletiger.com

    um what? this looks awesome! i usually saute my stems and then add the leaves but this sounds way yummier.

    • jeanine

      I usually do that too – sometimes the stems are so thick and I still end up with a ton extra πŸ™‚

  16. Pang from circahappy.com

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this recipe!!!!! I have been wondering myself about how to do something with that pretty colourful stems, and then you came to save the day πŸ™‚
    This would be SO GOOD with some Thai dish I want to make later; I am so gonna link back to your blog πŸ˜€

  17. Christina from Www.butimhungry.com

    These look awesome! I tried a recipe for pickled chard stems last summer that was pretty much a disaster, but these might be giving it another go!

  18. This looks so pretty that I had to share it! I need to make this soon.

  19. The stems are my favorite part of the chard, but I’m afraid I’m in the minority. This will give my CSA and farm market customers another good way to utilize fresh, local veggies. Thanks so much!

  20. Mary

    Is there anything I could use to substitute for brown mustard seeds? I try to avoid investing in spices I’d rarely use – of course I understand if it’s necessary, but thought I would ask!

    • jeanine

      you can skip them, they’re not essential. (although I buy mine in the bulk section – a cheap way to try new spices!)

  21. This rainbow chard is absolutely goregous! Thank you for featuring such a wonderfully simple dish that I can make in abundance and keep for a few weeks! I want to put this on a veggie burger!

  22. Halo Cig

    You are so cool! I do not suppose I’ve read through anything
    like that before. So good to discover another person with some unique thoughts on this topic.
    Really.. many thanks for starting this up. This website is one thing that’s needed on the internet, someone
    with some originality!

  23. Ashley from edibleperspective.com

    Gorgeous! And what a great idea!

  24. Susan G from wellseasoned.com.au

    I am a massive fan of Japanese Breakfast – but generally leave out the pickled vegetables, but these are so pretty! I’m making them right away – yum!

  25. bellarubiaca

    Made the pickled Swiss Chard Stems the other day…delicious!

    • jeanine

      so glad you liked them!

  26. Jennifer B

    I bought rainbow chard for the first time today solely because of this recipe and your blog. Bring on the pickling!

    • jeanine

      ha – hope you enjoy!

  27. Kathryn Grace

    Just moments ago, I read a lovely recipe elsewhere for making chard wraps, similar to lettuce wraps. I knew I could always throw the stems into my soup stock freezer bowl, but I like your idea so much better.

    This is today’s Recipe of the Day on a Facebook page I curate called Cooking with Whole Grains & Real, Whole Foods.

    Thank you for sharing it. I look forward to trying it. The chard in the stores is beautiful right now.

  28. Emily from nourishing-matters.com

    This recipe inspired me to try my hand at pickling my chard stems! I made a few changes based on what I had on hand, but they came out as perfect little zingy bites of goodness. I hate wasting food scraps, so I loved your idea. Your photos are stunning. I mentioned you in my post as my source of inspiration. Thanks for all the creative ideas!

  29. susan

    What about beet stems, would they work too? They are a little more stiff usually, so I’m wondering if they would work, pickled separately? Thoughts?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Susan, I think they should work, I can’t see why not (they might take a day or two longer to soften) – let me know if you give it a try!

      • susan

        Hi Jeanine, well I went ahead and made them yesterday. There were a few recipes online and I tried one. I used your recipe for the rainbow Swiss chard stalks (I left them as sticks). But for the beet greens, I chopped them very fine and used your proportions for the vinegar and honey. I used shallots and mustard seed, but I also added a fresh thyme and crushed peppercorns per the other recipe. I’ll report back when I’ve tasted them. In the future, I’ll probably omit the pepper. I just realized that when I make chard or beet greens it’s one of the few times that I skip pepper — IMO it does something weird to their taste, so I should have considered that and skipped it. But we’ll see how it turns out for the stems.

      • susan

        Sorry, that should have read ” a…heaping T of…thyme…” for a batch that filled a pint jar + a half-pint jar.

  30. NANC

    has anyone processed this in a boiling water bath for longer shelf life?

  31. Laura Smith

    I know at the end of this recipe, it says can serve over rice but is there a specific recipe for rice we can try these pickled chard stems in/on? πŸ™‚ I hope

  32. mike miller

    fantastic! i made a jar, kids scoffed at first, 1 day – gone!

  33. Amy

    Delicious and easy to make! Next time I will consider cutting the mustard seed in half. The flavor of them is fine, but the little buggers are everywhere. πŸ™‚

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m glad you enjoyed them!

  34. Ellen

    Perhaps I missed it, but how much salt is used for the recipe size of 1 cup chopped stems? I’ve got 4 cups and plan to freeze half and pickle half because this sounds wonderful.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Ellen, thanks for pointing that out. For this small jar, I do a few pinches – you could do between 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon.

  35. Linda Mangum

    Made this, but obviously did something wrong. After pickling, the stems were so tough I couldn’t eat them. Do they need to be blanched first? Could I can them in a waterbath canner? I did cut them thinner so they were pencil thickness. Brine was excellent!!! I will have to try this again.

  36. Phat Khat

    Looks so pretty! Going to try this right away! As to the chard stems for other purposes, I use them as a celery replacement, since I’m not fond of celery. Just chop them up in tuna salad, potato salad, etc!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.