Chives

Chives are the green plants/herbs from the species of edible onion and belong to the Amaryllis (Amaryllidaceae) family. It is a bulb-forming plant associated with genus Allium and possesses numerous medicinal and culinary uses. They are characterized by hollow tubular scape of around 2-3 cm wide and 50 cm long along with a soft and smooth texture. They produce light/pale purple star-shaped flowers having six petals. The chives can grow up to the maximum height of 30 cm to 40 cm. Their inflorescence is quite dense signified by about 10 to 30 flowers which remain shielded by a paper like bract before it blooms. Its conical bulbs grow from the roots developing dense clusters, and the size ranges between 2-3 cm and 1 cm in length and breadth respectively. Its seeds grow into a tiny three-valved capsule.\

Scientific Name

Allium schoenoprasum

Varieties

Common Chives

It can be eaten raw or cooked and popularly added in soups and salads. Common chives are similar to their other onion cousins in taste and have fairly large leaves which are hollow, tubular spikes that feature lavender colored globed or lilac-colored flowers on the top. It gets propagated by seeds or roots division.

Garlic Chives

Garlic chives also are known as Allium tuberosum possess a mixed taste of onion and garlic. They are mostly used in Asian cuisine like meat dishes and stir-fries. It can grow up to the maximum height of 24 inches. This variety has flat grass-like foliage and white star-shaped flowers on the stalks during late summer to early fall. These are voluntary plants which easily and quickly take over the garden or field because of their self-seeding properties.

Giant Siberian Chives

This variety of chives is richer in taste from other types. It has an intense onion-garlic flavor and appear like common chives but seems taller. They are specified by round, rosy-violet flower heads of an approximate diameter of 2 inches.

Siberian Garlic Chives

Siberian garlic chives (Allium nutans) are also one of the varieties that are popularly known as “blue chives.” It tastes like the onion with a tinge of garlic flavor. It grows in an upright manner and gives rise to bluish-green foliage and pink blossoms during midsummer. They can be a great companion to beets, chamomile, and carrots if planted outside. However, during winters they can also be grown indoors in front of a window receiving ample light.

Some Hybrid Varieties

  • Profusion
  • Curly Mauve
  • Pink Giant
  • Snowcap
  • Monstrosum
  • Forescate

Growing Conditions

  • Sunlight: They require a good amount of sunlight to develop perfectly.
  • Moisture: Water is the next essential content necessary for its development and growth. Proper and regular irrigation is the practice required. However, they can also survive in dry condition.
  • Soil: This plant demands a well-drained organic soil with a pH level ranging between 6 to 7
  • Climate: Temperate weather/climate is the ideal condition for the growth of chives.
  • Temperature: This plant is tolerant to high temperatures. Its seeds should be kept under the temperature ranging between 60°F and 70°F (15°C and 20°C) which is an ideal condition for its germination.

Uses

  • Used as a flavoring agent in various cuisines
  • Added in salads and dressings
  • Prominently used in Swedish and French dishes
  • Adds strong flavor in pancakes, soups, toasts, and fishes
  • Used as main ingredients to prepare a special sauce called Graddfil which is actually served with the traditional fish dish in Sweden during the midsummer celebration
  • Served with quark cheese in Poland
  • Used as garnishing component
  • Utilized for making a popular French herb mixture known as “Fines herbes.”

Nutrition Facts

Nutrients Value (Per 100 g)
Protein 3.27 g
Dietary Fiber 2.5 g
Carbohydrates 4.35 g
Total Fats 0.73 g
Energy 30 Kcal
Cholesterol 0 mg
Pyridoxine 0.138 mg
Vitamin C 58.1 mg
Folates 105 µg
Thiamin 0.078 mg
Vitamin A 4353 IU
Riboflavin 0.115 mg
Niacin 0.647 mg
Pantothenic Acid 0.324 mg
Vitamin K 212 µg
Calcium 92 mg
Vitamin E 0.21 mg
Potassium 286 mg
Magnesium 42 mg
Copper 0.157 mg
Sodium 3 mg
Lutein-Zeaxanthin 323 µg
Selenium 0.9 µg
Iron 1.60 mg
Carotene- ß 2612 µg
Manganese 0.373 mg
Zinc 0.56 mg
Crypto-xanthin- ß 0 µg
Phosphorous 58 mg

Health Benefits

  • Helps in the digestion process especially fatty acids and stimulates the appetite
  • Possesses anti-inflammatory and diuretic properties
  • Reduces the risk of cancer
  • Assist in losing weight and controlling obesity
  • Beneficial for the human respiratory system
  • Maintains the circulatory system of the body
  • Cures several stomach related disorders
  • Decreases fatigue and tiredness
  • Regulates blood pressure as well as lowers the cholesterol level in the body
  • Prevents cold and flu

During Pregnancy

This herb is used as a vegetable and proves to be an excellent source of iron, Vitamin B6, fiber, Vitamin C, folic acid, calcium, and magnesium. Therefore, it is a safe and beneficial mild flavored herb to be consumed during pregnancy but in moderate amounts. Folic acid is the most essential nutrient for expecting mothers. One should consult the healthcare provider or professional diet expert before adding chives to their diet. The main precaution to avoid any complication or side effect is, ‘don’t over consume’ and regularly visit a doctor.

How to Cut or Prepare?

  • Rinse them under cold water and wash off carefully before cooking or adding to some particular cuisine
  • Let them dry on paper towel or leave for air dry
  • Take fairly arranged (lined up from the ends at one side) a handful of chives
  • Snip them with the help of kitchen scissors and chop them in small slices by a sharp knife over the cutting/chopping board
  • You can add the chopped greens in any desired dish

Recipes

  • Gourmet Mushroom Risotto
  • Smoked Haddock with chive, pea and potato crush
  • Sour Cream and Chive rolls
  • Roasted garlic mashed potatoes with chives
  • Blue cheese, Bacon and chive stuffed pork chops
  • Chinese chive pancake
  • Chive and goat cheese soufflé
  • Scalloped potatoes with Bacon, cheddar, and chives
  • Soup
  • Sandwich
  • Casseroles

Interesting Facts

  • The fragrance of chives are repulsive to many insects
  • Smallest edible onion of the genus Allium
  • Believed that the plant provides the protection from the evil spirits

Storage

If you store dried chives, then it will not retain its fragrance. Therefore, it is preferable to preserve this herb by freezing. Wash them and spread on a paper towel for making them dry. Further, pack/wrap in a ziplock bag and place in the refrigerator at the required temperature. Another way for storing chives is to chop the elongated green leaves and freeze them inside the ice cubes.

References

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