When different countries refer to things by different names, it can get a little confusing as to what’s what. Silverbeet is one such leafy green, a food item that, in the United States and the United Kingdom, is more commonly referred to as Swiss Chard, and in some cases, just chard. But what actually is it?
What You'll Learn
The Many Names of Silverbeet
This leafy green goes by many names, usually determined by where you live. Aside from being called chard and silverbeet, it is sometimes referred to as crab beet, mangold, spinach beet, and perpetual spinach. But despite all of this, make no mistake: the Swiss chard you are probably familiar with is the same as silverbeet.
What is Silverbeet?
Maybe you’ve never actually tried Swiss chard, and making a comparison to it doesn’t really mean anything to you. So what is Swiss Chard, otherwise referred to as silverbeet? Well, it’s the leaves of a beet plant, and it’s actually within the same species as beetroot. Like spinach is just leaves of a particular plant, silverbeet is just beet leaves.
But if you’re wondering, the plant itself is not actually Swiss. Back in the 19th century, it was referred to as Swiss to distinguish it from French spinach varieties. However, it actually originated in Sicily and is most often associated with Mediterranean cuisine. As far as the leaves themselves go, they are somewhere between kale and spinach in bitterness and toughness.
If you eat silverbeet raw, it can be pretty bitter, but if you would rather avoid that, you can sautee them, which will cut down on the bitterness and actually make the leaves sweeter than spinach. Naturally, this is something to keep in mind if you want to cook with silverbeet, though they are often covered in dirt when fresh, so they need to be washed.
From a health perspective, silverbeet is very healthy and nutritious, as it is high in vitamins K, C, and A. On top of that, it’s quite a tremendous daily source of protein, dietary fiber, copper, and magnesium.
According to the U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, 175 gr or 1 cup of chopped Swiss chard contains:
- Protein: 3.3 grams
- Calories: 35
- Fiber: 3.7 grams
- Carbs: 7 grams
- Vitamin A: 60% of the Daily Value ( DV )
- Vitamin C: 35% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 477% of the DV
- Vitamin E: 22% of the DV
- Copper: 32% of the DV
- Manganese: 25% of the DV
- Iron: 22% of the DV
- Magnesium: 36% of the DV
- Potassium: 20% of the DV
- Calcium: 8% of the DV
Silverbeets Health Benefits
Despite being rich in nutrients, this vegetable also has a lot of health benefits. According to the MedicalNewsToday, there are many health benefits silverbeets can provide, like :
- Preventing osteoporosis
- Managing diabetes
- Lowering blood pressure
- Fighting against cancer
- Improving athletic performance
Should You Grow Silverbeet in Your Garden?
Silverbeets are cool season crops and grow well in spring and summer. They are a good option for beginner gardeners because they don’t require much care, are relatively easy to grow, and are hardy vegetables. This vegetable is an excellent choice for northern gardeners because it can survive frost and near-freezing temperatures. That also makes them great as a fall crop.
How is Silverbeet Used in Cooking?
While it is not exactly the same as spinach or kale, chard is very similar. Because of that, it is used in cooking in mostly the same way as those other leafy greens. You can bake and season them like kale chips or just use them as you would spinach or kale in any other dish, including pasta, casserole, stir-fries, and soups.
Generally speaking, if you wanted to eat leaves raw, you would stick to young leaves, which are very similar to baby spinach. That said, there’s nothing actually stopping you from eating mature leaves. However, they tend to be very bitter unless you cook them in a particular way to counteract that. How to sautee silverbeet check video at the bottom of this article.
All in all, though, silverbeet is just another type of leafy green derived from a vegetable, and you can eat it raw, cook it, or use it in recipes just like you would any other leafy green.
I love Swiss chard because it adds vibrant color to foods that would otherwise be bland. I use leaves to add a fresh, green flavor to salads, soups, and other dishes. I also love how easy it is to make soup and sauces when you have them in your fridge.
Did you know that silverbeet is also an excellent substitute for spinach and kale? You can use its colorful leaves as a substitute for spinach in lasagna, quiche, pasta and other dishes. Check out this video tutorial on how to sautee chard fast and simple, that is also delicious: