Chives

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Chives is my second pick for the most essential herbs you should have in your kitchen.

This article is the third in a series on the most essential herbs to have in your kitchen. This article is the start of the series: The Most Essential Herbs.

Identifying Chives

Chives are part of a family of vegetables/herbs referred to as allium. This family also includes onions, garlic, scallions, and leeks.

Many people get confused between chives & green onions. They are not the same thing, but can be used in the same way. Chives are an herb, but green onions are an onion and more of a vegetable. Chives tend to grow smaller and thinner then green onions.

Here’s a picture of green onions for comparison. They are thicker and have more white on the bottom.

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Eating Chives

Chives are a great herb to add to any dish when you are looking to get a subtle oniony & garlic flavor. They can be cooked into dishes but are often times added afterwards as a garnish on top of many dishes.

As with most herbs chives are best when you purchase them fresh or better yet grow them in your own herb garden.

To prepare chives for use you should wash them off first by rinsing them under cool water. Lay them out on a paper towel to allow them to dry. You can also use the paper towel to lightly pat them dry. You can cut them with any sharp knife and the best technique is to lay them out together so their ends are even then cut many of them at once. You can alternately bunch them together and cut them with a good pair of scissors.

You can also use the immature, unopened flower buds. These also provide a light onion-like flavor which is a little more pungent than using the typical steams/leaves, but it is still less pungent than onions.

There a so many uses for chives that it is hard to narrow it down to just a few top foods, but here are some suggestions for common foods they work great with.

  • Pasta dishes
  • Soups
  • Eggs
  • Baked Potatoes
  • Salads

Health Benefits of Chives

Chives contain a lot of nutrients important for your health. This includes:
  • potassium
  • iron
  • calcium
  • vitamin A
  • vitamin C
  • folate
  • niacin
  • riboflavin
  • thiamin

Chives are often recommended to help alleviate symptoms of a typical cold. Like much of the Alliums, chives are high in sulfur which is a natural antibiotic.  Chives have also been know for their anti-inflammatory and digestive properties.

Growing Chives

Growing your own chives is a great idea as they not only taste great but provide over all benefit to your herb garden. The family of Alliums can assist in repelling pests that can harm your garden such as aphids and mosquitoes.

You can grow your own chives from seed by starting them indoors and then moving outdoors in the spring or fall.  Chives may also be started directly outside.  If you are able to keep your chives growing for multiple years you will want to divide and replant clumps in early spring.  When you harvest your chives you should cut completely across the base of the plant about a half inch above the ground.  Be sure to remove all the leaves at once as this will encourage the plant to regrow.

Chives can be enjoyed year around by preserving them at the end of the season. This can be done by drying or by adding fresh herbs to oil, butter, or vinegar.