Tuesday, June 23, 2009

If It's Edible, Eat It

While we already try not to be wasteful in the kitchen (or anywhere else), we've noticed that in growing some of our own food, we make a point of being even less wasteful. We are trying to eat all edible parts of the plants we grow, whether or not those parts are normally considered edible.

For example, many people cut the stems out of their chard and collard leaves and discard them as waste. Why? They are perfectly edible parts of the plant.

They take a little longer to cook than the leaves of these plants do. The easiest way to prepare them is simply to start the stems cooking a few minutes before putting the leaves in the same pot. Both stems and leaves will be tender at about the same time.

Another way to eat the stems is to consider them a completely separate vegetable. Collard stems are sweet and crunchy, and can be chopped up to be added to salads and eaten raw.

Chard stems look vaguely like celery or rhubarb stalks. To me, their flavor is similar to beets (and they are, in fact, known as silverbeets in some parts of the world). They can be simmered in water until tender and eaten with just a little butter and salt. Because they taste so much like beats, I decided to pickle them the same way I do whole or sliced beets. They turned out great, IMO, and I think I actually like them a little better than pickled beets.

Pickled Chard Stems

Chard stems, removed from leaves and cut into 1-inch pieces
Vinegar (white, cider, rice or even balsamic)
Whole Cloves (optional)

Place chard stems in a saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until stems are fork-tender.

Drain, reserving both stems and cooking liquid. Measure enough cooking liquid to just cover the stems. Return stock to the pan. For each cup of stock, add 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup vinegar and 2-4 whole cloves. Bring brine to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.

Combine stems and brine in a bowl with a lid. Let cool to room temperature, cover with lid and then chill before serving. Be sure to remove whole cloves before eating.

Serve as a relish with your meals.


A.Marie said...

Okay, I must be really clueless...I never knew that you could eat those!! They look really, really yummy, though.

Annie Jones said...

They might not be for everyone's taste, but if you like beets, you'll probably like them.