Chives, a delicious member of the onion family are perennial plants that when planted will be at home in your garden for many years to come.
Reaching a height of up to twelve inches at maturity, these clumps of narrow, hollow leaves find themselves adorned by globe shaped, violet flowers during the months of May and June.
They are both a colorful addition to the garden and a scrumptious addition in the kitchen. Furthermore, the health benefits of this herb is staggering.
Historically, the use of chives in cooking are believed to have originated in China and are said to have been brought to Europe by Marco Polo after his his extensive travels through the Middle East and Asia.
Known by many names, chives epithet derives from the Greek language; chive meaning “reed like leek.”
Native to both China and Europe, the plant grows wild across continental landscapes boasting small variations from one area to the next. Gardeners during the Middle Ages used them to build natural borders around flower beds for both decorative and insecticidal purposes.
The common use of this herb in culinary dishes and kitchen gardens isn’t documented until the 1500’s, nor is the plant’s former use as a tool to ward off evil when hung around the house like spring bouquets.
A little over a century ago, the Roma (commonly known as Gypsies) were still using chives for fortune telling. Envision an old woman in a horse drawn cart, drawing the young and innocent toward her with the promise of revealing the future.
Imagine a young woman holding a bunch of chives within her hands, nervously smiling before throwing them onto a wooden table where the ancient soul would prod and study them until she was able to weave predictions based upon exactly where they’d landed.
Today, we value this plant for its many uses in the kitchen and the benefits it provide to our bodies. The tangy, aromatic taste that it is well known for originates in the high concentration of sulfur compounds and other essential oils contained in the stem.
Known to ease stomach complaints, protect the heart against disease, and assist the body in fighting bacteria, this plant may also increase our bodies’ ability to digest fat.
Chives natural components gift us with a variety of essential minerals. The herb contains calcium to strengthen the bones, and large amounts of iron to build up the blood; whereas potassium serves to support the heart.
Also high in vitamin A, vitamin C (three and a half ounces of the herb meets the daily requirement), and folic acid, chives make an invaluable, healthy contribution to any meal.
Popularly used in creams and sauces (particularly potatoes), chives have as many uses as they do health benefits, but there are special steps to keeping those benefits preserved. Easily cultivated in a pot, the live plant should be placed near a sunny window. After your plant reaches about six inches in height, it can be safely cut for use in your favorite recipes.
Keep your plant trimmed, unless of course you plan on using the blooms for decoration in salads, herbal oils, or other dishes. The flowers are safe to eat and have a milder flavor than the leaves, but take care to note that the leaves will lose a certain amount of flavor after the plant flowers.
Chives should always be cut just prior to use, in order to preserve their flavor and protect their vitamin content. Heating them up will strip them of their vitamin C and digestive properties, so when adding them to a warm dish, delicately sprinkle them on top after cooking. Never cut them until you’re ready to use them. Cutting too soon will cause the loss of vitamins, flavor, and aroma.
If you prefer to keep chives readily at hand, freezing them is an excellent option. Snip them into very small pieces using kitchen shears and place them into an ice cube tray. Fill your tray with water and freeze accordingly, and when you’re ready to use them simply thaw the cubes in a strainer.
Chives may also be dried, but dried chives will not retain their full flavor. Fresh or frozen products are recommended, but if you’re willing to sacrifice taste in a pinch, dried varieties will suffice.
Far more than a simple garnish, chives are valued for that extra bit of zest they add to everyday recipes. Mix them with goat cheese or blend into butter, both delicious and easily prepared toast toppers.
Sprinkle them into an omelet for extra flavor, shower your favorite stew with seasoning, or spice up a favorite cream sauce. The possibilities are endless and the benefits…… well worth the sprinkle.
Whether you choose to grow chives on your own or purchase them at the market, fresh examples produce the most flavor in your recipes and health benefits for your body. None-the-less, dried products can be purchased at your local grocery store and have a long shelf life. Either way…….. enjoy!
Looking for more herb and spice advice? Be sure to check out Foodal’s complete guide now!