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TC_Manhattan February 1, 2019 12:17 PM

Best Tasting Swiss Chard
I want to grow Swiss Chard for the first time, and there are so many varieties to try.

Which do you prefer (and why)?

Oriole, Five Color Australian Chard, and Bright Lights are varieties that caught my eye,
but is there much difference? I am zone 6, with a few weeks of hot 90 temps in July, and bloody cold for a few weeks in winter:dizzy:.

Taste/flavor are also considerations. Any opinions, information, recommendations are greatly appreciated. Thanks!

DonDuck February 1, 2019 01:04 PM

I've never detected significant taste differences in Chard. If I remember correctly, Chard is beet greens without the beet. I'm not a big fan of Chard except as cooked greens and then only when mixed with milder flavored greens. I appreciate Chard for it's beautiful color and size varieties in my garden.

My chocolate Labrador gardening buddy was my primary reason for growing Chard. He loved the stems, but would not eat the leaves. He is in dog heaven now and I may not grow Chard again except for it's beauty.

KarenO February 1, 2019 01:12 PM

I love chard and my personal favourite is Flamingo pink.
For size and super hardiness though you can’t beat the old fashioned Fordhook giant. If you are new to growing chard, bright lights is a great place to start. Blindfolded I dont think I could tell any difference in flavour but the colours are very attractive.

zendog February 1, 2019 01:35 PM

I've grown Fordhook, rainbow and a few others and don't notice a huge amount of difference. I think Fordhook might be a bit milder than the red stemmed chards and the size is great.

This year I'm trying Sea Foam which I had seen a friend growing. The leaves are a little lighter green and more crinkled and he reported it had a milder taste and was noticeably different from what he had grown before - in a good way. I'm also trying Joy's Midnight (dark burgundy stems and leaves) as an interesting visual contrast. I like to tuck chard into my flowers so like it to be pretty-plus surrounding them with some marigolds helps reduce the deer pressure on them a bit. But once the deer taste the first bite, they'll eat every plant. No variety is safe!

imp February 1, 2019 02:31 PM

For me through the years, other than a visual thing, chard type comes down to whether I want more stem ( like for dips or stir fries) or more leaf to use? I then cut the ones that are right, as I grow both/ several most years.

Labradors2 February 1, 2019 03:24 PM

I'm not a big fan of "Rhubarb" or the other pink-stemmed varieties because I think the white-stemmed ones are milder and more tasty. I especially loath the "yellow/orange ones that comes with the "Bright Lights" variety /puke.

My favourite is Lucullus, and Fordhook Giant is my second choice :).


SQWIBB February 1, 2019 07:54 PM

Not a chard fan but to be honest, I really haven't experimented with it much, with that said, I do like.
Perpetual Spinach,

(Beta vulgaris var cicla) 50 days. Belongs to the same species as chard and beets, but it has distinctive differences. The taste is more like a true spinach than ordinary chard, and the leaves look like spinach too—flatter and more pointed than chard, with slimmer stems. Very longstanding in the garden, yielding from late spring through autumn if planted early. Seldom bolts during its first year.[/I]

PhilaGardener February 1, 2019 09:27 PM

I grow the colored mixes primarily because they are beautiful! (I do eat some as well, but they are primarily eye candy in my garden.)

pmcgrady February 1, 2019 11:45 PM

To me...all Swiss chard taste like dirt...
And I haven't been hungry for dirt, lately!

bower February 1, 2019 11:57 PM

Too funny pmcg. :)) I think I agree with you. :)
They are so easy to grow though, I just wish they tasted a little less... like dirt. :))

salix February 2, 2019 12:15 AM

Love chard, any and all varieties. Sometimes when the weather is JUST right, the leaves will grow to ginormous size, rivalling rhubarb. Then I use them for "fake cabbage" rolls...

greenthumbomaha February 2, 2019 01:09 AM

The master gardeners used to grow tons of swiss chard for the food bank. I asked the driver what was popular and he confided he couldn't convince people to take the chard and it was always left over because it tasted awful. The team leader has common sense now. I wonder if it remains on the grow list.

I was never brave enough to try it to this day. I have seeds for Fordhook, so I may give it a try with a single plant. I made Collards for the garden group luncheon but it was so laden with bacon fat that I couldn't taste anything green. It was a hit!

- Lisa

Labradors2 February 2, 2019 08:12 AM

That's so sad about the Food Bank people not taking the chard.

If you do grow it, you can always use some in place of spinach to make quiche, or add it to lasagna. My hubby really hates chard raw in salad, but I can get him to eat (and quite enjoy it) cooked. It's either chard or kale, poor guy! {LOL}.


Worth1 February 2, 2019 08:36 AM

Chard is not a beet green but they are kinfolks.

I like raw chard for BCT's 'Bacon Chard and Tomato' sandwiches
Chard on burgers instead of lettuce.
Chard salad.
Cooked chard with salt and butter.
Chard just about anything.
The only reason I ever liked chard to begin with was the Swiss in Swiss Chard.
As a small boy if it was Swiss it just had to be good. :lol:
Makers of all things well made and good.

PlainJane February 2, 2019 09:13 AM

I haven’t noticed much taste difference between varieties...
I grow it for use in salads and for cooked greens as it’s a more efficient use of growing space than spinach.

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