February 9, 2015

One Recipe for Canned Greens

When I was a kid my favorite vegetable was spinach - canned, frozen, it didn't matter. My mom never got fresh spinach, which later opened up a whole new world for this spinach lover. For growing myself, I find spinach rather short lived in my garden in my garden because it bolts too quickly, but I love other greens as well.

Probably our least favorite is Swiss chard, but one summer I had oodles and oodles of it and so canned a couple dozen pints of the stuff. Yes, I know frozen is better but my freezer is small and filled with other things, so canning was my next best option (although dehydrating isn't bad either). Well, it didn't go over so well, until I devised a couple of recipes to make it more palatable. This one is easy, tasty, and even requested.

Canned Swiss Chard with Onions & Garlic

  • 1 pint canned Swiss chard (can substitute fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 half cup chopped onion 
  • 1 bulb (yes bulb, not clove) garlic 
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • dash of Balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Drain the chard. Saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent (Dan likes his slightly browned). Heat until warmed through, season with salt and pepper, and a dash of Balsamic vinegar.

Recipe Notes:
  • Strong flavored greens match well with other strong flavored ingredients. 
  • Any green can obviously be substituted.
  • If you make your own butter, that can be substituted for the oil and vinegar, to make this an almost 100% homegrown side dish. 
  • I give the liquid from canned veggies to our pigs.

I've since learned that we can grow kale and collards almost all year around, so canning greens isn't necessary. Any extra greens are dried for my goats' vitamin and mineral mix, or to add to soup. Still, we like this recipe well enough that I do enjoy keeping canned greens available. 

Do you like greens? What's your favorite recipe for them? I'd love to know!


Night*Sky said...

I always had problems with spinach bolting until the year I broke my ankle and couldn't get out to the garden until August. I planted spinach and a few other things and the spinach survived freezes down to 19 degrees (covered with a blanket) and kept right on going until the snow covered it. In the spring (April in MN) it really amazed me to find half of the plants survived under the snow and started growing again as it warmed up. Since then I always plant it in the fall.

PioneerPreppy said...

I've always kinda figured greens was the real reason high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavorings were invented, not to mention yellow dye number 5, and did so well. I think it went something like this....

Hey PP, do you want this nice mess of cooked greens that is good for you but tastes like wet grass or this sponge cake twinkie that will do more harm than a pack of cigarettes?

Me: I will take the twinkie please :)

Judy said...

There is a Persian dish that uses Black-eyed peas and greens. In my book it is one of two ways to eat canned greens, the other being lasagna. I learned to make it from my cousin who was married to a Persian.

1 lb stew meat cut in small dice (beef/lamb/venison)
1 pint of black eyed-peas
1 pint of your favorite greens
juice of 1 lemon
1 to 1 1/2 cup of chopped onion
1-2 cloves of garlic
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 to 1 tbsp of curry powder.
This is served over Persian steamed white rice.

Brown the meat and onions together in a skillet. Add the garlic and curry powder; cook until fragrant. Next add everything else and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until your diced meat is tender. You can add all kinds of leafy herbs to this to change up the flavors, like parsley, cilantro, dill, Fenugreek, chives or leeks. Good eats!

Kev Alviti said...

Not a huge fan of spring greens but my wife loves them. Trouble is because I'm not big on them I don;t end up growing them. I grew lots of chard last year and then never got around to planting them out! Must try harder!

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

I find that spinach bolts easily so I grow perpetual spinach, which I keep picking when the leaves are small. It produces for months and months and overwinters so that there is a picking or two in the spring before it goes to seed (which I save)
I make spinach soup, which I call "green soup" with spinach, potato, onion, courgette, garlic and veg stock, cooked, seasoned and blitzed.

Leigh said...

Night*Sky, that's a very good idea. I do plant greens in the fall but never even thought about spinach (having already given up on it). I'll definitely have to try it this fall.

PP, LOLOL. Dan and I have been noticing how tasteless store bought food is. There were a few places we used to like to go out to eat, but lately the food has not taste. We've also noticed that store purchased foods have gotten sweeter; we figure to compensate for no taste.(Either that or salt).

Judy, that recipe sounds really good! I'll use chevon and my homegrown field peas and except for the curry powder and rice, it can be almost 100% homestead grown. Thanks!

Kev, I find chard to have a pretty strong flavor, and we like other greens better. My two favorites are Siberian Dwarf Kale, which is even delicious raw. Also collard greens, particularly cabbage-collards. Both are extremely cold hard as well as delicious. Chard I grow because it's a pretty plant and the goats love it. Turnip greens in a common dish in the US South, but also strong flavored. That one is good over a nice slice of (not too sweet) cornbread. The goats are less crazy about turnip greens, but we love turnips too so I grow a lot.

Gill, I'm not familiar with perpetual spinach, which I'll have to research. Is it anything like New Zealand spinach? I love greens in soup, and will have to share my creamed greens soup recipe soon. :)

Anonymous said...

Hello Leigh.....it's me again....lol! As always, your recipes look like I need a cyber fork pronto to dig in....Mmm!

Hugs to you my dear friend!

Ed said...

Almost nobody sells or cooks greens up here like you do in the south. I always try to get some when I'm down there.

I grew up on fresh spinach and remember the first time I had some cooked as an adult. It was terrible. But it turned out to be the cook because I've had some great cooked spinach since.

Nina said...

Swiss chard makes a delicious and easy to use substitute for the cabbage in cabbage rolls. That is what I tend to do with it when we have too much. Much less fuss than cabbage, since you don't have to cook the Chard first. Otherwise, soups and stirfrys are good places to hide it from my guys.

Mama Mess said...

We LOVE greens! Oh they are so yummy, and we had them for supper last night! We eat them at least once or twice a week. I get some bacon grease nice and hot in a pan, then I toss in some diced onion and sautee until translucent. While that's going on, I sort of chop my greens but not really, I just slice them and then toss them in the pot until they wilt. Then after they are all wilted down, I add some home canned chicken stock and cook on med high heat for about 10 minutes or so, until the broth is reduced about by half. Then eat and enjoy and they are so good, I sop the juice up with homemade bread, or else just drink it right out of my bowl!

Mama Mess said...

We also aren't picky, and I will use kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, or spinach. Anything will do! I haven't canned any yet, but I do like canned spinach and hope to can some greens.

Woolly Bits said...

spinach is a devil for bolting here, too - but I sometimes use the bolted stuff for dyeing:) but chard - I love chard, but I don't can it. I take off the leafy bits (use them like spinach, e.g. in gratins etc.), par-boil the stalks and eat them either just with melted browned butter - or I make a white sauce (or cheese sauce) and put the stalks in, yummeh:) sometimes that is called poor man's asparagus in germany!

Leigh said...

Pam! Where have you been! I check your blogs from time to time, but I haven't seen any updating lately. So good to hear from you. How are you doing in the goat department these days?

Ed, I grew up in the north and the only greens we knew about were spinach. Turnip greens were for those antiquated Southerners, LOL. Little did I know. I think the cook plus preservation method makes a big taste difference with greens.

Nina, what a great idea, thanks!

the Goodwife, that sounds divinely yummy! Can't wait until we have our own bacon and bacon grease to try this. :)

Bettina, more great ideas! Thank you. I've used raw chard stalks in place of celery in salads. It does well there. Have to say par-boiled and cooked in butter or sauce sounds like a definitely must-try.

Karen@ onthebanksofsaltcreek.com said...

Yeah! We will be growing chard and kale in our garden this year. We love garlic so I will give this a try. Yes, freezer space if limited so I can as much as I am able.

Judy said...

Leigh, I wonder if you are letting your chard get too big before harvesting because I think it has a better/milder flavor than spinach. Mom would let it get about 10 inches high(still kind of bunched) and would cut it back to about 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Letting it grow back, cutting again and again. A smallish row would give us chard all summer long for canning and eating. That's how I grew it in my garden, too. The little stalks were chopped and used like celery.

Vintage Maison said...

I did laugh when I read your post. When I was pregnant with my first child, I had an overwhelming craving for spinach. I used to cook it, squeeze out the moisture, then make huge doorstop sandwiches out of freshly cut bread from a good old English bloomer, then spread thickly with salty butter, then the spinach piled on top. The spinach had to be hot so it would melt the butter. No wonder my son weighed nearly 10 pounds when he was born, but oh, I did so love those sandwiches!

Cat Eye Cottage said...

I don't like Swiss Chard either. Yet I grow it every summer. Even my rabbits, who get greens from the garden, don't really like it. The chickens will eat it, so I feed it to them mostly.

Sandy Livesay said...


Thanks for the recipe, I'm going to have to try it.

Last year, I planted Swiss Chard. I made sure to cut the leaves early (when their young). Clean them well, chop them, and place them in a frying pan with a little olive oil, butter, hammock hock, a little chopped onion, and 1 garlic clove. They turned out really good, actually better than the spinach I planted. I think the secret is to harvest the leaves when they're young.

Mark said...

I love greens cooked like that, and especially spinach! While I'm the only one in the house that does, a few time a year De will make it for me anyway. She follows '5 Acres' too, and I know she'll have a look-see at your recipe. Maybe this spring something similar will show up for dinner!

Cozy Thyme Cottage said...

That does look like a delicious recipe. I like greens somewhat but not as well as I should. Know they are healthy. Working on incorporating more of them into my diet! Good for you! Nancy

Leah said...

That looks delicious! I'm not usually one to eat my greens. Mostly because I make them in salads. And I get sick of salads fast! But that looks super easy! I have never had canned greens before so I don't know what I would think of them but I might have to try them now!

Leigh said...

Karen, we love kale too. :)

Judy, you know, you may be right. I do tend to let things get away from me. I need to be more attentive to size, or at least give the bigger leaves to the goats!

Vintage Maison, my goodness, that sounds delicious. Never heard of spinach sandwiches, but I will have to give your idea a try, thanks!

Candice, interesting about the rabbits. I do think growing things just for our critters is a good way to feed them. I plan on lots of greens of all kinds this year and I'll have to toss some Swiss chard in to the chickens.

Sandy, I will definitely have to try cutting them smaller this summer. Or feed them to the goats!

Mark, well, let's hope she's reading the comments too. :) (Hi De!)

Nancy, finding tasty recipes for them really helps. I miss not having more greens growing this winter and have made a promise to myself to not let that happen again.

Leah, thanks! A lot of folks prefer them frozen, but my freezer is too small for that. Dehydrated, they're easy to add to things like soup and stew. :)

Mama Pea said...

I can hardly imagine the huge amount of (any) greens you'd have to process to get that many pints of the stuff! I don't even freeze greens because of the amount to harvest, wash and then process. (But I do dehydrate to use in soups and stews.)

Our favorite way of eating greens of all kinds is raw as a salad. I sometimes make salads without any lettuce! Any and all greens are chomped up with gusto here. BUT I always harvest them when they are "baby" leaves. Such a difference in flavor from the bigger, tougher, more bitter leaves.

Susan said...

I always wondered about canning greens. A lot of the time, I over plant them (okay, most of the time) and I have limited space in my freezer as well. I might give it a try this year - especially with Swiss chard, as the voles tend to eat the roots and leave me scrambling to save the leaves!

Jake said...

Lots of good suggestions here, both posts and comments!

Two things I would add: first, we like greens, especially chard and spinach, in casseroles and quiches. I think the 'wet grass' flavor gets lost with all the meat and seasonings, which is nice. :-)

Second, not all chard is created equal. We've noticed that the white-stalked variety (Fordhook Giant, I think) is more mildly flavored than the red-stalked stuff (or at least, it tastes less like beets). Not sure which variety everyone else has had experience with, but if you've only had the red, try the white!

Leigh said...

Mama Pea, I tend to plant a lot "just in case" LOL, and that was a prolific year (so that it got way ahead of me in size and production). Last year I had only one chard plant come up! I'm really wishing I had a larger (or another) dehydrator because it runs all summer and I always have a back up for it's use. Although maybe I should go look up that idea I saw for a solar dehydrator. Hmmm.

Susan, most folks would probably tell you frozen tastes better, and it certainly retains more nutrients than canning, but without freezer space, this is an acceptable substitute. I also used to can lambs quarter. We actually like that better than spinach.

Jake, thank you for mentioning the type of chard, excellent point. Like you, Dan and I prefer the white to the red, although the red is certainly prettier. :) +1 on adding it to casseroles and quiches too.

Debby Riddle said...

I usually dry them, but freezing also works. I put them in with sour cream, garlic and onion powder, and freshly minced onions and garlic. great for a dip. They also go into soups. A favorite quick pasta dish, is stirring goat ricotta, mozzarella, greens, and sauce, with the cooked noodles, ground meat is optional.

Anonymous said...

Hi Leigh....a Congrats on winning the book awesome! We are doing fine....I'm just on Facebook....grrr.....lol...sometimes I wish i wasn't....don't fall for the trap of getting on....lol! ;) We have 4 Nigerian wethers. They will be 2 in March....thank you for asking! Hugs!

Leigh said...

Debby, you sold me at "sour cream" LOL. I really need to put up more greens this year, although the better option would be to grow them all year long. Kale and collards overwinter quite well and are tasty favorites.

Pam, well, I'm glad to hear from you! My fb is just two pages for my books, which I have a hard time keeping updated. Life is too busy to do anything more with social media!