Chives

Photo by Billie Nicholson

 Botanical name: Allium schoenoprasum

Common name: Chives

Family: Liliaceae

Parts used: Leaves and flowers

Native Region: The Chive is the smallest, though one of the finest-flavored of the Onion tribe, belonging to the botanical group of plants that goes under the name of Allium, which includes also the Garlic, Leek and Shallot. It is found all over Europe from Corsica and Greece to the south of Sweden, in Siberia as far as Kamschatka and also in North America.

Botanical Description: The plant is a hardy perennial. The bulbs grow very close together in dense tufts or clusters, elongated in form with white, rather firm sheaths. The outer sheath is sometimes grey. The slender leaves appear early in the spring and are long, cylindrical and hollow, tapering to a point and about the thickness of a bird feather quill. They grow 6 to 10 inches high. The flowering stem is hollow and either has no leaf or one leaf sheathing it below the middle. It supports a close globular head, or umbel, of purple flowers; the flowers are closely packed together on separate, very slender little flower-stalks, shorter than the flowers themselves, which lengthen slightly as the fruit ripens, causing the heads to assume a conical instead of a round shape. The petals of the flowers are nearly ½”. The seed capsule is a little larger than a hemp seed and is completely concealed within the petals, which are about twice its length. The small seed are black when ripe and similar to onion seeds. The flowers are in bloom in June and July. [1]

Growing: This perennial will grow in any ordinary garden soil. It can be grown from seeds or by dividing clumps in spring or fall. Beyond weeding, no further care is needed. Beds should be replanted at least once every three or four years. They like full sun or partial shade and well drained soil with moderate watering. They are frost tolerant and can over-winter in some climates.

Harvesting: The green leaves from the clumps can be cut three or four times in the season. By rotating cuttings between multiple clumps, greens can last until late in the season. Snip leaves with scissors near the base of the stem. Move around the clump when cutting to allow plant a chance to recover. Chives can be chopped, dried and stored in an air-tight container. Volatile oils leave quickly.[3] If you are not growing your own, purchase uniform, deep green fresh bunches from your grocer. Choose young leaves for mild flavor and older, larger ones for sharp, strong onion-like flavor. Store fresh leaves in a plastic bag and keep in the refrigerator. Dried leaves may be placed in an air-sealed container and stored in a cool, dark place.[5]

Culinary Uses: The chive contains a pungent volatile oil, rich in sulphur. This oil is present in all the onion family and causes their distinctive smell and taste. It works to improve salads, cut fresh and chopped fine, into green salads, cucumbers, sliced tomatoes and is the crowning touch to baked potatoes smothered in butter and sour cream. Keep a dish of chopped chives on your dinner table to add pizzaz to any dish.[2] 

Medicinal Uses: Like garlic, chives boast some of the healing properties of stimulating circulation and lowering blood pressure. The most important organic compound found in chives is allicin, which has been recently linked to reduced levels of  LDL or bad cholesterol in the body and improved heart health. Together with quercetin, they have been directly connected to lowering cholesterol levels and plaque in the arteries, thus lowering your risk of stroke and heart attacks.[4]

In addition to the role of quercetin in preventing certain types of cancers, together with vitamin C and vitamin K in chives, their powerful anti-oxidants capabilities mop up free radicals from your cells.[4]  The vitamin K has been related to bone health to maintain bone integrity and density.

Chives are an anti-cold and flu remedy that can be added to your meals everyday. Take advantage of their anti-bacterial properties and use chives in excess during cold and flu season.[2]

Medicinal Remedies
Home Remedy for Sore Throat
Chives have been used as a sore throat remedy from ancient times. As it has anti- inflammatory properties, it helps reduce the inflammation and gives good relief from the pain. To use for sore throat, pour boiling water over finely cut chives, let it steep, strain and drink.

Final Hair Rinse
Chives extract can also be used for promoting hair growth as it increases the blood flow in our scalp. It also treats scalp infections as it has anti bacterial properties. Chive extract can be used as a final hair rinse too. To make it, boil chives in water and strain. Once cool, add in a squeeze of fresh lime juice and use it as final hair rinse.

Facial Mask for Dry Skin
Make a puree of chives and apply this on your face as a mask. Keep it for about 30 minutes and then wash off with water. Then apply a good moisturizer on your face.

Garden Uses [6]

  • Add some interest to your flower beds
  • Use as an aphid insect repellent
  • Prevent soil erosion
  • Put boiled (and then cooled) solution of chives and water on vegetable plants to protect them from mildew.

Disclaimer:
Chives are not normally considered allergenic, but people who need to avoid onions and other foods of the same family may need to be cautious.Too much chive may provide too high a concentration of certain organic compounds, which may lead to abdominal discomfort.[4]

Recipes

Chive Infused Deviled Eggs

What You Need:

  • 1 dozen eggs, hard boiled, peeled and sliced in half
  • 5 Tablespoons of mayonnaise, light or regular.
  • 2 Tablespoons of spicy mustard
  • 1 teaspoon of chipotle powder. More or less if you wish.
  • ¼ teaspoon of paprika powder
  • 1 dozen chive stems, chopped fine
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Set aside 2-3 chive stems and paprika powder.

2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well with a fork.

3. Separate the hard boiled yolks from the egg whites and add in the bowl.

4. Continue to mix well with a fork, adding mayo or mustard if more moisture is needed.

5. Spoon mixture into egg white halves.

6. Sprinkle the mixture with the reserved paprika and chive stems.

Allow the eggs to refrigerate for one hour before serving.

Fresh Chive Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • 1/2 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cups salad greens and fresh herb leaves and tender stems

Directions:

Combine garlic and a pinch of salt in a large salad bowl. Mash to a paste with a fork. Mix in vinegar, then oil and chives; season with salt a pepper. Add greens and herbs and toss to coat.

                    

Chives and Dill Muffins
Ingredients

    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
    • 1 TBS white sugar
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ½ tsp baking soda
    • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
    • ¼ cup chopped fresh dill
    • 1 ½ cups plain yogurt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 3 TBS butter, melted       

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Grease 12 muffin cups. Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and cayenne pepper together in a bowl. Stir in chives and dill. Whisk yogurt, eggs, and melted butter together in a separate bowl; add to the dry ingredients and stir until just blended into a batter. Pour ⅓ cup batter into each prepared muffin cup. Bake in preheated one until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. Serve warm.

Sour Cream and Chive Egg Clouds
Ingredients

  • 8 large pastured eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 chives, chopped – divided
  • 2 tsp salted butter

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450º Line a rimmed baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper.

  • Separate the eggs, pouring the whites into a large mixing bowl, and the yolks into individual ramekins.
  • Using an electric hand mixer, whip the egg whites until they are fluffy and stiff peaks have started to form.
  • Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in cheese, sour cream, garlic powder, and half of the chives.
  • Spoon mixture into 8 separate mounds on your Silpat. (You may need to do this in 2 batches. Make a well in the center of each cloud. Gently pour a yolk into each well.
  • Bake for 6 minutes or until the clouds are golden brown on top and the yolks are set.
  • Place a small amount of butter on top of each yolk. Top with remaining chives.
  • Serve and Enjoy!

References

  1. https://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/chives65.html
  2. http://livingawareness.com/grow-use-chives/
  3. http;//themicrogardener.com Gibson, Anne, “Guide to using kitchen herbs for health.pdf”, 
  4. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/herbs-and-spices/chives.html
  5. https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/chives.html
  6. https://www.littlehouseliving.com/10-uses-for-chives.html

Billie Nicholson, Editor
August 2018

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