Q. I accidentally bought Swiss chard instead of kale at the grocery store for a recipe I’m making, and I don’t have any need for it this week. It’s a really beautiful bunch of chard that I would like to use in a soup in a few weeks. I know that it won’t stay fresh in the fridge that long. I’m not sure what the best way of preserving it would be. Can you freeze Swiss chard? Should I cook it first or freeze it raw?
A. Yes, you can freeze Swiss chard for later use. Rather than freezing it raw, it should be blanched first in order to preserve its nutritional value and to help preserve the colour of the vegetable. Blanching only takes a few minutes extra, but the extra benefit is well worth the effort.
How to freeze swiss chard?
To freeze Swiss chard, begin with fresh chard. Wash the Swiss chard and then inspect the leaves for any that are wilting or have been eaten away by bugs. Many people prefer to separate the leaf from the tougher stem by slicing along the edge of the stem to remove it. The stems are edible, however, and can simply be trimmed down and used along with the leaves.
Place a large pot of water on the stove to boil. Fill a separate large bowl with ice water and have more water on hand. Place the Swiss chard in the boiling water in batches and let boil for 3 minutes. Remove the chard from the water with a slotted spoon and place directly into the ice water to cool it down. Remove from the ice water and lay on a clean dishtowel. Continue the process with the rest of the chard, replacing the ice water as needed.
Squeeze the Swiss chard to remove the excess water. The Swiss chard can then be frozen in a large batch or in smaller serving sizes. A popular method of freezing chard is to pack the Swiss chard into ice cube trays. Place the trays in the freezer until the chard has frozen, and then pop the Swiss chard cubes out of the tray. Place the cubes in freezer bags. Squeeze out the excess air, then seal and label the bags.
To thaw the Swiss chard, remove the desired number of cubes from the freezer. They can be thawed in the refrigerator in a small container, or dropped directly into soups or stews as they cook. For best results, consume thawed Swiss chard within a few days of defrosting.