Silverbeet is similar to spinach but larger, with a stronger flavour. The main variety of silverbeet has a white stalk but coloured varieties are also available. Rainbow chard has green leaves but the stems and veins can be red, orange or yellow, causing confusion with rhubarb. Green silverbeet can be sliced thinly, dressed with olive oil and eaten raw. It can also be sauteed or cooked into frittatas, pies, soups and gratins.
High quality silverbeet leaves are clean, large, glossy and tender. They have firm leaf stems and no damaged or discoloured parts. For a whole plant harvest, silverbeet is picked by cutting off the whole plant at the plant base. Over the harvest period, the leaf size shrinks and the stem size increases with repeated pickings. The number of plants going to seed early may also increase. At this point the crop can be discarded. For continuous harvests, successive sowings in spring, summer and autumn are best. Side dressing with sulphate of potash fertiliser will improve stem firmness and storage life.
Postharvest storage temperature
Silverbeet can be stored at a leaf temperature of 0°C and a relative humidity of 95–100%. The leaves decay quickly and have a short storage life of 1–2 weeks.
Controlled atmosphere storage
Modified atmosphere packaging may offer moderate benefit by reducing water loss and delaying yellowing.
Silverbeet is ethylene sensitive. If stored with vegetables that give off ethylene (e.g. rockmelons or tomatoes), it will decay even faster.
Store at 95–100% relative humidity.
Disease & infection
Diseases are not an important source of postharvest losses.
Shred silverbeet and add raw to salads. Alternatively, slice and use in stir-fries, curries, quiches, soups or as part of a side dish. Cook as briefly as possible to retain maximum nutrient content.