Fruits and Vegetables

What is chard?

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2013-04-24 01:39:59

Chard is scientifically known as Beta vulgaris cicla. It

is a variety of the same species as beets and belongs to the same

family of chenopod vegetables as spinach, quinoa, epazote, and

palak. It shares a similar taste with a flavor that is bitter,

pungent, and slightly salty.

Chard got its common name from another Mediterranean vegetable,

cardoon, a celery-like plant with thick stalks that resemble those

of chard. The French called them both "carde." Although never grown

much in Switzerland, these greens were called "Swiss Chard" to

differentiate them from cardoons which were also called chard.

Cardoons are no longer called chard, so the "Swiss" part is now

redundant. In English, chard is also known as white beet,

strawberry spinach, seakale beet, leaf beet, Sicilian beet, spinach

beet, Chilean beet, Roman kale, and silverbeet. In Italian, the

words bietole and biete are both used to refer interchangeably to

chard and beet greens (Beta vulgaris Crassa). Technically, biete da

costa is chard, so named because it originally thrived in the

saline soil along the coasts, while biete da orta are beet greens,

so named because they were always a cultivated vegetable garden

plant. Costa also refers to the thick central stem ribs of the

chard, usually used to make soups, and sometimes refers to the

whole plant. The French blettes or bettes comes from the Latin

blitum, deriving from the Greek, while the Spanish word for chard,

acelgas, comes from the Arabic word al-silq, meaning chard.

Chard is a tall, leafy, green vegetable with a thick, crunchy

stalk and fan-like green leaves. The leaves may either be smooth or

curly, depending upon the variety, and feature lighter-colored ribs

running throughout. The stalk, which can measure almost two feet in

length, comes in a variety of colors including white, red, yellow,

and orange. Sometimes different colored varieties are bunched

together and labeled "rainbow chard." Although chard is available

throughout the year, its peak season runs from June through August

when it is at its best and in the greatest abundance at your local

supermarket. In the United States it planted by seed either in

March, or May. Because the small root bulb is left in the ground

when the leaves are cropped, chard refoliates, so repeated

harvesting is possible throughout the six-month growing season.

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