Chives

   

The graceful leaves and blossoms have a mild onion flavor, especially when used fresh. Use the leaves in cooking and toss the flowers in salads or use them as a garnish. Because their flavor is so mild and the color so vivid, chives are an ideal addition to spreads, herb butters, and dips; tossed in salads; and even used as a flavoring for vinegars. Using the blossoms in the vinegar dyes it a soft pink tone, and makes an attractive gift when bottled in decorative glass.

Chive History and Use - Planting - Harvesting - Recipes

Chives History and Use

Chives (allium schoenoprasum) are one of the most common herbs are often used for garnishing food. They are the smallest members of the onion family and date back to early Roman times. They grow in clumps with bright green, thin cylindrical stems topped with large pink or purple pompom flowers in midsummer.If the chives are to be used for cooking rather than purely decorative purposes, snip off the flowers to keep the oniony flavor in the leaves.

The easiest way to start chives is to dig a clump from an established patch to transplant into your garden. They are also easy to start from seeds. Plant them directly in the garden as early in spring as the soil can be worked. Seeds can be planted as late as 2 months before the first fall frost.

Chives prefer a rich, damp soil and should be grown in a sunny position. They are ideal for growing in containers as they grow to a height of 6-10 in, but make sure they do not dry out. Chives are perennial plants, growing from bulbs. The clumps of bulbs can be dug up and divided either in spring or fall.

Chives Planting and Culture

The easiest way to start chives is to dig a clump from an established patch to transplant into your garden. They are also easy to start from seeds. Plant them directly in the garden as early in spring as the soil can be worked. Seeds can be planted as late as 2 months before the first fall frost.

Chives prefer a rich, damp soil and should be grown in a sunny position. They are ideal for growing in containers as they grow to a height of 6-10 in, but make sure they do not dry out. Chives are perennial plants, growing from bulbs. The clumps of bulbs can be dug up and divided either in spring or fall.

Chive seed germinate easily, but slowly. Sow seed about 1/2 inch deep in flats containing a peat-based soilless mix. Maintain constant moisture and a soil temperature of 60 to 70 F. In four to six weeks, the young plants can be planted outdoors, preferably after all danger of frost is past.

All plantings should be divided every two to three years to prevent over-crowding. Space plants 4 to 15 inches apart in rows 20 or more inches apart, depending on the width of the cultivator that will be used. Chives are bothered by few disease or insect pests.

Chives Harvesting

Cut the chive leaves with scissors when required, starting with the outside leaves (those nearest the edge of the pot) and working your way inwards. Always leave 5cm (2in) of leaves remaining. The leaves rapidly grow back and can be cut several times in the growing season. Plants grown from seed should be left alone (although remove the emerging flower heads) until July in the first year to allow a good root system to establish itself.

Chives produce a mass of purple flowers in late Spring, and a second flush may well occur between June to July . If you are growing the plants for eating only, these flowers should be removed as soon as possible - if left, they restrict the growth of new leaves. If the flowers are required for eating or for their colour, it is best to keep separately a couple of chive plants for this purpose. When the flowers are starting to fade, cut the whole plant to 5cm (2in) from ground level and you will then have a second set of leaves produced and probably a second flush of flowers.

Chive Recipes

Chives are usually used fresh and are a common addition to baked potatoes, cream soups, and egg dishes. There is some evidence that chives can improve digestion and reduce high blood pressure. The oil has antibacterial properties.

Lemon and Chive Butter

Mix butter with lemon and chives and use to flavor new potatoes, steamed vegetables or simply spread on warm French bread for a tasty snack.

Mix 1/2 cup slightly softened butter with 1 tbsp finely chopped chives, the zest of 1/2 lemon and a few drops of lemon juice.

Hot Tomato Salad

2 large beef tomatoes
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1tbsp chopped chives

1. Slice the tomatoes and arrange in a large micro proof serving dish or four individual dishes.

2. Mix the oil vinegar, chives and pour over the tomatores

3. Cook, uncvered, on high for 2-3 minutes until hot but not cooked. Check the tomatoes frequently during the cooking time and baste them occasionally with the dressing. Seve immediately.

Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes and Chives

4 eggs, beaten

3 Drops Tabasco sauce

1 tablespoon butter

1 tomato, chopped

2 tablespoons Chopped Chives

1/4 cup cream cheese, cubedn Chives

salt and pepper

Add Tabasco sauce to eggs; melt butter in pan. Lightly sauté tomato; stir in eggs and coo until lightly scrambled. Fold in chives and cream cheese, salt and pepper. Cook until eggs are o done.

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