Pickled Chard Stems

Posted by Bill Hettig, Master Brine Pickler on 15th Apr 2014

Pickled Chard Stems

A Well Red Pickle

Chard Stems Recast into a Crispy Pickle

Chard is my favorite vegetable in the garden. It pulls heavy duty in my kitchen from summer right into the early throes of winter. Chard keeps pushing up these gorgeous veined leaves with so little to do to keep them content. They brighten the garden with color way past her garden mates of three seasons! 

Chard offers deep, woodsy tones to my palate. It marries well with earthy spices and herbs as you will see. I made this pickle walk the forests with me with sage, anise, and caraway.

Most of us delight in eating the leaves and don’t quite know how to do culinary justice to the stems. Although they are delicious sautéed, I found another bright way to enjoy them anytime of year. They pickle to crisp-tender vermillion jewels.

Add pickled chard stems to an appetizer plate, salads or toss into plain starch side dishes—like rice or couscous—for a pickle punch.

Pickled Chard Stems - 1 Pint. (.47 L)

Choose chard leaves with petite, shiny stems. The older stems can be used, but will need a little slicing and longer steam treatment. There are a variety of chard colors, so have some fun with the white and golden stems, too.

- Recipe by B. Hettig

1 bunch chard stems

1/4 cup sweet onions, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 TBS. fresh sage, minced

1 tsp. anise seed

1/2 tsp. caraway seed

1 TBS. aged brine from a previous batch of brine pickles

1 cup filtered water

1-1/2 tsp. unrefined sea salt (like Celtic Sea Salt®)


Pull the stems off the leaves. Trim the chard stems to remove the thicker, fibrous ends and the ragged top portion. 

For long stem pickles:

Take one stem and place in jar to determine length. Trim it to length then use as a template to cut the remaining stems. If the stems are wider than a pencil, slice them through the length.

For chopped stem pickles:

Chop each stem on the bias about a half-inch. For an elegant diamond shape, cut the stem on an angle while also angling the knife at a 45 degree pitch to the board, you will create a “mitered” corner. It will also expose more stem area to the steaming action.

Steam the stems for 3-4 minutes and then taste for tenderness. If still fibrous to the tooth, steam another minute.

Place stems in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

Prepare the remaining ingredients.

To load the jar with long stems: lay jar on its side and lay in the stems. Stand up and pack the onion, garlic, spices and herbs in around the stems.

For chopped stem pieces: toss the stems with remaining ingredients and load into the jar.

Make the brine using water, salt, and aged brine.

Pour in the brine until about a half inch from the jar lip and seal the Perfect Pickler® kit according to booklet or website instructions.

Ferment for four days and refrigerate.