Chives are one of the first herbs to appear in spring with their grass-like clumps growing out of small bulbs and are among the easiest and most rewarding herbs for home gardeners. Like garlic and leeks, chive belongs to the onion family, growing wild in northern Europe, Greece, and Italy. Native to the Orient, chives have long been used in the kitchen, with recipes from China dating back nearly 5000 years. The Siberians offered them to Alexander the Great as the only treasure they had in order to stop his invasion. The name comes from the Latin cive for onion.
Onion chives (Allium schoenoprasium) have hollow leaves, purple sphere flowers beginning in April through June and a delicate oniony flavor.
Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) also known as Chinese chives have flat leaves, delicate white star-like blossoms in July & August and a delicate garlicky flavor.
Both have sweet edible flowers which can be added to spring salads, preserved as an herbal vinegar, used as a garnish or in fresh and dried arrangements. The fresh, sharp bite of either onion or garlic chives adds zest to many dishes especially with potato, cheese or eggs, they are excellent for herbal butters and chives are a crucial ingredient in the French fines herbes blend. Attractive vegetables bundles may be made by tying the blanched stems with or without blossoms around carrot sticks, green beans or asparagus. Chives may be used instead of or in addition to onions or scallions without the peeling and tearful chopping! The freeze dried chives are almost equal to fresh so can be substituted in equal amounts in recipes. Although their value is truly in the kitchen and the garden, chives are high in Vitamin C, folic acid and potassium plus they stimulate the appetite, ease stomach distress, help the body fight bacteria and may increase the body’s ability to digest fat.
Chives can be grown in containers as well as in the garden and are suited for both indoor and outdoor growing. In the garden, they provide an attractive low-growing edging and if the two types are alternated, they offer an extended bloom time. They are also excellent companion plants fro roses, vegetables and fruits as they deter aphids, Japanese beetles, black spot, scab and mildew. For a colorful display, combine chives, cilantro and nasturtiums to form an “herb bowl” centerpiece. They may be easily propagated from seed or by the division of existing clumps. To harvest, always cut the leaves completely to the ground when the clumps are at least 6” high and cut flowers at the base of the stalk. Use fresh or freeze for future use by snipping into small pieces and freezing in a single layer or placing in an ice cube tray and filling with water.
Cut chives just before use
to preserve vitamins, aroma & flavor
and add to hot foods
at the last moment
since heat lessens their flavor
CHEDDAR CHIVE BISCOTTI
1 c flour
1 c cornmeal
1tsp baking powder
1c grated Cheddar cheese
3Tbs vegetable oil
1Tbs dried chives/3Tbs fresh chives
Mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt, stir in cheese and set aside. Whisk together eggs, sugar, oil, and chives. Stir in flour mixture to form soft dough. Shape into a log on greased baking sheet and bake at 350 for 25-30 mins or until golden and firm in center. Cool 15 mins. Slice diagonally into 1/2” thick slices. Arrange on wire cooling rack and return to 300 degree oven for 10 mins or until crisp. Cool completely and store in airtight container.
CREAMY CHIVE DRESSING
2Tbs chive vinegar
2Tbs chopped green olives
1Tbs minced chives
1 hard cooked egg, chopped fine
Combine the mayonnaise, catsup, vinegar and seasonings, then add the olives, chives and egg. Serve on tomatoes or any green salad.
I have given you all things, even as the green herbs.”