Fermented Swiss Chard Stems

organic rainbow chard on cutting board
TC Morgan Photography/oment/Getty Images
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 5 mins
Servings: 16 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
1 Calories
0g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 1
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 7mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 0g
Calcium 4mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Chard's juicy, crunchy leafstalks deserve to be treated as a unique ingredient entirely separate from the leafy green parts. "Swiss" chard (they don't call it that in Switzerland, by the way) contains enough natural salts that it doesn't even need a salt brine to achieve lacto-fermentation. All you need is water and chard.

You can use any variety of chard for this recipe. Rainbow chard, with its multi-hued leafstalks, makes a particularly lovely ferment, but the white-stemmed chard is fine, too. By the way, beets are the same species as chard, so if you have a bunch of beet greens, feel free to use the leafstalks in this recipe.

Use fermented chard stems as a tasty salad ingredient, naturally rich in healthy probiotics, or add them to soups and casseroles.


  • 1 bunch Swiss chard (any variety)
  • 2 cups water (filtered or non-chlorinated)

Steps to Make It

  1. Wash the chard. Slice the green, leafy parts off of the thicker leafstalks and midribs. Reserve the leafy greens for another recipe.

  2. Chop the chard stems crosswise into 1/2 to 1-inch pieces. Put the pieces into a clean glass jar (it is not necessary to sterilize the jar for this recipe, but it should be scrupulously clean).

  3. Pour non-chlorinated water over the chard pieces. Most municipal tap water is chlorinated, and the chlorination can prevent a successful fermentation. To get rid of the chlorine, you can filter the water, or simply leave it out overnight in a wide-mouthed vessel such as a pot - the chlorine will evaporate out within 12 to 24 hours.

  4. Fill the jar all the way to the top, then loosely screw on the lid. The lid will keep the chard pieces submerged in the liquid. Place the jar on a small plate that will catch the overflow that may occur during the fermentation. Leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

  5. Remove the lid and check for signs of fermentation. You may see some bubbles on top, and the chard should start to have a light, pleasantly sour smell (think very mild sauerkraut). If there are no signs of fermentation yet, replace the lid and wait another 24 hours. Keep checking once a day, adding non-chlorinated water if necessary to keep the jar full.​
    Note: Some of the chard pieces may darken slightly, especially those at the top of the jar. This does not affect their flavor.

After 1 - 4 days, transfer the jar to the refrigerator to slow down the fermentation. Fermented chard will keep, refrigerated, for at least 6 months, but is best eaten within 3 months.