Herb Profiles: Chives

Fresh Chives

Fresh Chives growing in garden

Fresh ChivesFresh Chives

INTRODUCTION: Chives are a well-known member of the onion family. Chives are the meekest of the all the onions.  This herb is native to Britain, Northern Europe and North America. They are the easiest to grow of the fresh herbs used for culinary purposes. Chives are found in many English, French and German gardens.

HISTORICAL FACTS: Originally chives were found in Asia and Europe.  Chives have been used for centuries but probably not cultivated until the Middle Ages in Europe.

HORTICULTURAL FACTS: Chives are related to the lily family.  Onions, garlic and leeks are also members.  A perennial herb hardy to -35 degrees that is easy to grow in almost any soil conditions.  They can reach 2” in height. This herb has a hollow, thin, grass-like stems that grow in clumps.  Chives are absent of the typical onion bulb.  Clumps put off shoots of purple flowers and are used as decorative boarders in formal English gardens.

GROWING GUIDELINES:  Chives like full sun and rich soil.  However, they will tolerate partial shade as well as a light soil mix. Divide clumps every few years to increase your chive supply.  they can overpower your garden and become almost weed like.  Grow in pots for a year round supply of fresh stems.

FLOWERING FACTS: Shoots with a purple flower develop in early spring.

Chives Culinary Facts:

CULINARY FACTS: Use chives in sauces (such as remoulade), in fresh salads, combined with egg and omelet recipes, cream cheese, as a flavored garnish on soups and potatoes.  Clip the flower heads and enjoy the stalks all season long.  Mix chives with softened butter and add a dollop to grilled steak, chicken or veal.  Chopped leaves are a garnish for sour cream and a classic addition to baked potatoes.

HARVESTING TIPS: Don’t snip ends of shoots, as the stalk will become tough.  When havesting, snip close to the ground several times a season. Cut the shoots at ground level and store in plastic bags in the refrigerator for several days.  They do not freeze well but can be commercially quick-frozen and available in most supermarket spice and herb sections.

FLAVOR: Delicate mild onion flavor that can vary from nutty, mild sweet flavor to very pungent.

HOME GARDEN: Indoors/outdoors

Chives Medicinal Facts:

MEDICINAL FACTS: Chives, which are high in vitamin C, potassium and folic acid are a good addition to modern recipes to restore vital nutrients that are lost in cooking. It is known to promote good digestion; ease stomach upset and prevents bad breath.  They have a diuretic effect that will lower high blood pressure.

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