Chard is a well-known vegetable in the class of green leafy vegetables. It is a rich source of essential nutrients and is there before a popular addition to green smoothies and health meals. A rather colorful member of the beet family, chard leaves are dark green in color with thick veins coursing through. An interesting feature of this vegetable is the color of the stalk. The stalk varies in color and is white, red, orange, yellow or pink.

If you, like many others, have embroidered the latest health trend of drinking green smoothies for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you're fridge must be stuffed with leafy greens. You keep them close at hand so that you can prepare and enjoy a healthy drink whenever you want. However, often you notice that the leaves wilt and dry hard a day after purchase. As a result, they do not remain qualified candidates for healthy green smoothie.

Many choose to plant green leafy vegetables in their gardens and backyards to get the best and most fresh produce, but it may not be an option for all. For the latter group, it will help to learn how to select and store chard.

How to Select

When you go shopping for chard, there are a few pointers that will help tell fresh chard from stale leaves.

· First, examine the condition of the leaves. The chard leaves which varies variety you buy should be firm and bright green in color.

· Second, inspect the condition of the ribs. The ribs should be stiff and broken. There should not be any brown spots or other marks on the ribs.

· Third, there should not have any holes.

· The size of the chard leaves has a major say in its taste. Smaller ones are crisp and sweet while larger ones are slightly bitterish and chewy.

How to Store

If you are going to use the leaves immediately, simply wash and drop them into your blender. However, if you intend to store it for the next few days, here's what you should do.

· Wrap the leaves in damp paper towels. This will retain moisture content and prevent the chard from wilting. Do not wash the leaves before wrapping them in a tool. The excess moisture from washing may cause them to rot.

· Store the leaves wrapped in paper in a properly ventilated plastic bag. Place the bag in a refrigerator. Chard can be refrigerated in this manner for up to 4 days.

· When storing chard leaves do not stuff too many leaves into a plastic. As there is not much space to breathe, the contents wilt faster.

· Freezing is another method to store vegetable for a longer duration of time. Blanch chard for 3-4 minutes. Run the vegetables under cold water and store them in freezer boxes or bags. Blanching vegetables not only prolongs their life and preserves their nutritional value, but it also retains color.

· Fruits such as apples, pears and tomatoes cause leafy vegetables to wilt and decay fast as they produce ethylene gas. Here, fruits and vegetables should not be stored together.

So, follow these simple tips and preserve the life of leafy greens such as chard.