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How to Harvest and Store Swiss Chard

Cut chard leaf by leaf—cut the outer leaves first allowing the inner leaves to grow larger--or cut away the whole plant one inch (2.5 cm) above the soil.

Rainbow swiss chardHarvest Swiss chard when the leaves are tender and big enough to eat.

Swiss chard is ready for picking 30 days after sowing if you want baby leaves. Harvest chard 45 to 60 days after sowing if you want full-sized leaves with a thick midrib.

When to Harvest Swiss Chard

  • Harvest Swiss chard any time leaves are large enough to eat.
  • The leaves of full-size chard can be eaten raw in salads or cooked and the midrib that can be used much like celery. Baby chard has no midrib and is tender in salads.
  • Grow chard for late spring and early summer harvest in cold-winter regions.
  • Grow chard for autumn and winter harvest in very hot-summer regions.
  • Swiss chard holds up well against warm temperatures, unlike other leafy greens.  Chard will grow where summer temperatures are consistently in the 80°sF (26°+C) and, conversely, can withstand low temperatures in the 30°sF (-0°C). If chard bolts and begins to bloom in very warm weather, immediately cut off the bloom stalk and the plant will produce more leaves.
  • In cold-winter regions, grow chard under a plastic tunnel or in a cold frame. In a cold frame, you can keep chard from freezing by covering plants with straw or hay. Overwintered chard will give you an early spring harvest.
Swiss chard harvest
Cut chard with garden scissors or serrated bread knife.

How to Harvest Chard

  • Harvest Swiss chard as close to mealtime as possible for the best flavor.
  • Cut chard with garden scissors or serrated bread knife.
  • Cut chard leaf by leaf—cut the outer leaves first allowing the inner leaves to grow larger–or cut away the whole plant one inch (2.5 cm) above the soil. Either way, the plant will keep producing new leaves.
  • Soil often sticks to the ruffled leaves of chard. To clean leaves fill a sink with lukewarm water and swish the leaves around then lift the leaves and set them in a colander to drain; repeat this process if soil remains. Air dry or pat leaves dry with a cloth or paper towel before storing.
  • Cut out the midrib of larger leaves before serving greens raw or cooked. Large leaves are best chopped and cooked down like spinach, or used in casseroles, soups, and pasta.
Chard leaves
Chard will keep in the refrigerator for about 10 days.

How to Store Chard

  • Store Swiss chard cold and moist, 32°-40°F (0°-5°C) and 95 percent relative humidity. Place chard in the refrigerator in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable crisper section.  Chard will keep in the refrigerator for about 10 days.
  • Chard that is stored too cold or too long will develop brown spots on the midrib and the leaves will wilt and yellow.

More tips:

How to Grow Chard.

Swiss Chard: Kitchen Basics

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5 Comments

  1. Should I cut chard leaves when it is over 85 degrees outside, or is it best to wait until after the very hot part of the day is over? I live in southwest Washington state, and it is suppose to get into the upper 90’s today. My plants look great now at noon. I do not want to stress them.

    • All leafy crops including chard will be best tasting when harvested early in the day. If the weather is staying very hot, you may want to set shadecloth over the crop to protect them from sunburn. Chard can withstand heat, but mid to high 90s will stress the plant and the leaves could become bitter flavored.

  2. CAUTION!!! Please review best way to wash vegetables, especially if you are eating them raw! Sink drains contaminate veggies in a sink of water, even when sink is plugged. This leads to a very common and severe food poisoning to the victims that mistakenly get a bad germ from the drain. Also, the greens/raw veggies that get contaminated and sit out unrefrigerated with just a bit of rinse water on them, can get you the sickest, because the bacteria can multiply rapidly at room temperature. Restaurants are told to wash their veggies in a separate container within the sink. My friend used to do restaurant inspections for the county, and she taught me about this.

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