Brine-Pickled Swiss Chard Stems

Occasionally, you come across a cookbook that just speaks to you. It's like a good friend, coming over for a cup of tea and you just want to savor it, the presence, and take it in slowly. It just feels comfortable and right in your home, like it belongs there, or as if it's been there all along.

The first time I held The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle in my hands I knew it had found a permanent home and I had found a kindred spirit. This wasn't surprising considering that I already loved Jennifer's blog, Nourished Kitchen, and used recipes from her kitchen regularly. 

This cookbook focuses on all the things that I value in my home and kitchen. It focuses on traditional foods, recipes for wonderful home-cooking with emphasis on eating sustainably and in season. It is the book every follower of the "traditional food movement" has been waiting for since Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions changed and rocked our world (but less than rocked our palates....)

Every recipe I've tried so far has been amazing. And there are so many more I am excited to try! In case you can't tell from the from cover... this book has absolutely AMAZING photographs. It's a true work of art. It's a cookbook you'll want to proudly display not hide in a cupboard somewhere.

The book is organized by sections in a unique and appetizing way. Starting with vegetable dishes in the "from the garden", moving onto "from the pasture" where you learn to make simple cheeses and gourmet egg dishes. From there it takes you to the "range", the "waters", the "fields" and even foraging into the "wild".

Of course, being the fermentation addict that I am, I first turned to the "from the larder" section of the book to see what exciting recipes Jennifer had to offer. I was not disappointed! 'Fennel, kohlrabi and green apple relish'? I believe I will. 'Vanilla mint soda'? Um, yes. 

But one recipe in particular stood out to me. It's the one the I get to share with you here: Brine-pickled swiss chard stems. It was exciting because it was something I had previously never thought to use. Fermenting chard stems? That's cool! I'd used the greens in sauerkraut many times but never the stems. And they were really good, too! With all the spices this recipe called for you can't go wrong. It's like the holidays in a jar with a nice crunch. Not to mention it was just beautiful, too. We ate the stems by themselves, but we also chopped them up and used them like you would a relish as a spread or mixed in with other foods. Absolutely delicious! 

Want to give it a try? Jennifer graciously agreed to share the recipe with you all. So check it out! 

Shared with permission, the following excerpt is from The Nourished Kitchen

brine-pickled swiss chard stems
I use every bit of every vegetable when I can. Instead of throwing away Swiss chard stems, which can be tough, I prefer to pickle them. Mild on their own, the chard stems take on the flavor of the spices you add to your brine. I serve them as a side dish, as you would a cucumber pickle, or I finely chop them to
make a relish. Makes about 1 quart
1 pound Swiss chard stems
4 cups water
2 tablespoons finely ground
unrefined sea salt
1/4 cup Hot Pickling Spice (page 277)
2 bay leaves
Trim the stems of any bits of leaf still clinging to them. Cut the stems to a length to match the depth of your fermentation jar or crock, then arrange them tightly inside.
Heat the water in a saucepan until it reaches blood temperature
(98° to 100°F), so it feels neither hot nor cold when you touch it. Whisk the salt into the warm water until it dissolves, then stir in the pickling spice and bay leaves. Pour the liquid over your chard stems so that the stems are completely submerged in the brine. If the stems float, weigh them down with a glass weight or a sterilized stone.
Close the crock and allow the Swiss chard stems to ferment for 3 to 4 weeks. Taste them from time to time, and when they become sour enough for your liking, transfer them to the refrigerator where they should keep 6 months or longer.

sweet pickling spice
You can find pickling spice in the spice section of most well-stocked grocery stores, but I prefer to make my own, adjusting the spices to better suit the flavors in the recipe. Radishes, turnips, and beets benefit from sweet spices, while cucumbers and kohlrabi often benefit from hotter flavors.
Makes about 1/2 cup
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons allspice
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons whole black
2 teaspoons whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cinnamon sticks, broken up
into small pieces
2 dried bay leaves, crumbled
Spoon all the spices into a small mixing bowl, stir to combine, and store in an airtight container for up to 1 year.

Hot Pickling Spice: Make the Sweet Pickling Spice, then stir in 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 year.

In addition to allowing me to share this wonderful recipe Jennifer McGruther would also be happy to give one lucky reader their very own copy of The Nourished Kitchen! So if you would like a chance to win this wonderful book enter below.


  1. that sweet pickling spice looks like it could be amazing with beets!

  2. I love this idea! The recipe looks great. Pinning!

  3. Fabulous recipe and post. And love that graphic! Pinned :)

  4. The chard looks great and I love the sweet pickling spice! Awesome giveaway too!

  5. Wonderful giveaway, article and recipe! I don't own the book and love that you've teamed up with Jennifer to continue educating and inspiring!

  6. What a wonderful recipe! I love how different it is from other pickles..I never thought to use chard stems! Thanks for sharing!

  7. I have never canned anything, this seems to be a good start, maybe! :)

  8. This has a lot of things I've never tried before.

  9. I'd like to win because my Mother in law would LOVED this for Christmas!
    Digicats {at} Sbcglobal {dot} Net

  10. So happy to have found you on Twitter this morning. I'm looking forward to spending more time here this morning with an extra cup of coffee. I never thought of pickling Swiss chard. I have a little left in the high tunnel. If there's enough for a pint I think I'll give this a try.


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