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Chives add a fresh, green look and taste

You wouldn’t want to cook without chives, would you?

 

They add a mild oniony flavour and a fresh green colour to everything from cream cheese and scrambled eggs to soups, vegetables, salads, as well as fish and meat dishes. Chives are part of every French fines herbes mixture, together with parsley, chervil and tarragon. It’s best to add fresh, chopped chives just before serving.

Scissors are better than a knife

How you cut chives makes a difference. You’ll lose less juice and flavour if you cut chives with scissors rather than chopping them with a knife. Chopping chives, however you do it, or chewing them releases the sulphur compounds in the volatile oils. It’s these that create the delicate herby aroma. Chives are also rich in vitamin C, with about 70 mg per 100 g.

Origins

Like many of our culinary herbs, chives probably came originally from central Asia. Nowadays they grow all over Europe both wild – beside streams and on gravel banks – and cultivated. Chives are hardy perennials, regrowing each spring from very small bulbs; they belong to the Alliaceae family. The tube-like chive leaves grow 20 to 30 cm long. The round balls of pinkish mauve flowers appear in July. Like the leaves, they are edible and they’re even more decorative than the leaves. Once the chives have flowered, the leaves lose a lot of their flavour.

Buying, storing and growing chives

You’ll find you can buy chives all year round, either fresh in bunches or in pots, or frozen. If you’re buying fresh chives, make sure they do look fresh and green. The best way to store a bunch of chives is wrapped in a damp cloth in your fridge. Chives in a pot need to be watered regularly but they don’t like wet feet. They’ll grow easily in your garden in a sunny spot where the soil is loamy and slightly damp. A border of chives around your vegetable bed will help to keep insect pests at bay. If you cut chives down to around two centimetres above the soil, they’ll regrow and you can enjoy them from spring right through to autumn.

 

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.bzfe.de