Chives

The Chives are a species of edible onion belonging to the amaryllidaceae family. They are the only allium plants native to both the Old and New World. This edible onion plant has numerous culinary and medicinal uses while it is also popularly grown in herb gardens all over the world. They are also known as Common Chives.

Chives Scientific Name

The scientific name for Chives is Allium schoenoprasum.

Allium schoenoprasum Description

Chives are bulb forming herbaceous plants with an attractive appearance.

Height: They can grow anywhere between 30 cm and 40 cm in height.

Scape: Chives plants have hollow tubular scape or stem growing between 2 and 3 cm in diameter and 50 cm in length. It has a soft texture which appears much stiffer just before the flowers bloom.

Inflorescence: They grow dense inflorescence of 10 to 30 flowers. The inflorescence remains surrounded by a papery bract before blooming.

Flowers: The pale purple star shaped flowers have six petals. They grow between 1 cm and 2 cm in width.

Seeds: These plants have small three-valved capsules growing the seeds.

Bulbs: The slender conical bulbs grow between 2 and 3 cm in length and 1 cm in breadth. They grow from the roots forming dense clusters.

Chives Distribution

They are found in many regions of Europe, Asia and North America.

Growing Chives

These hardy perennial plants are very popular with herb gardeners. Their purple flowers attract bees that help in pollination. They also have ornamental value. Chives are usually grown from seeds or bulbs. They can also be grown indoors from small plants. Quality potting soils are ideal for growing them indoors; however, plenty of sunlight is required for their proper growth even when growing indoors.

Chives Picture
Picture 1 – Chives

Growing Conditions

Soil: Well drained organic soils are ideal for growing Chives plants. Mulching the soil can also be beneficial for them.

Soil pH Requirements: The soil ph should ideally range from 6 to 7 for them to grow properly.

Sunlight: They grow well in full sunlight.

Temperature: These hardy plants can tolerate high temperatures. The seeds should be kept at a temperature between 60 °F and 70 °F (15 °C and 20 °C) in order to germinate.

Moisture: Regular watering is necessary for their growth; however, they can also survive in dry conditions if required.

Climate: Temperate climates are ideal for their growth.

Planting Chives

The seeds can be germinated indoors in organic soil or they can be planted under a protective cloche.

  • Seeds should be sown in a depth of ¼ inch in well drained moist soil during late winter.
  • The Chives seedlings should be transplanted four weeks after germination.
  • For growing them form bulbs, individual bulbs should be planted during early spring.
  • One should water the soil properly before planting or transplanting Chives so that the roots can be properly established.

Caring

These plants are very easy to take care of.

  • It is important to water the Chives plants (especially the young plants) regularly.
  • Applying a layer of compost will help in retaining the soil moisture.
  • Care should be taken not to over-fertilize them.

Harvesting Chives

The green scapes should be cut with the help of a scissors. However, it is not advisable to start harvesting until they are properly established with a good root-system. Their scapes tend to turn yellow and shrivel after the flowers bloom. Due to this reason it is important to prevent Chives from flowering to use the stems for culinary purposes.

Chives Health Benefits

Apart from adding a special flavor to a dish this herb also has many health benefits to offer:

  • It can stimulate appetite and help in digestion. This herb helps in digesting fatty foods.
  • Chives scapes are rich in various nutrients.
  • These herbal medicinal plants have diuretic and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • They reduce the risk of some types of cancer.
  • Consuming this herb is beneficial for human respiratory system.
  • It can be beneficial for fighting obesity.
  • It is also beneficial for the circulatory system.

Chives Nutritional Value

Here is the nutritional value for 100 gm of this herb:

Principle Nutrients

Nutrients Amounts
Energy 30 Kcal
Carbohydrates 4.35 g
Protein 3.27 g
Total Fat 0.73 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Dietary Fiber 2.5 g

Vitamins

Nutrients Amounts
Folates 105 µg
Niacin 0.647 mg
Pantothenic acid 0.324 mg
Pyridoxine 0.138 mg
Riboflavin 0.115 mg
Thiamin 0.078 mg
Vitamin A 4353 IU (International Unit)
Vitamin C 58.1 mg
Vitamin E 0.21 mg
Vitamin K 212.7 µg

Electrolytes

Nutrients Amounts
Sodium 3 mg
Potassium 296 mg

Minerals

Nutrients Amounts
Calcium 92 mg
Copper 0.157 mg
Iron 1.60 mg
Magnesium 42 mg
Manganese 0.373 mg
Phosphorus 58 mg
Selenium 0.9 µg
Zinc 0.56 mg

Chives Uses

This herb is widely used in cooking all over the world. It is best to use this herb fresh and uncooked otherwise it loses its beautiful aroma. It is also used for some medicinal purposes.

Pictures of Chives
Picture 2 – Chives Picture

Culinary Uses

  • It is used as a fresh herb to add a special flavor to different dishes in various cuisines.
  • They are used in salads and dressings.
  • This herb is a main ingredient for many traditional dishes in the French and Swedish cuisines.
  • It is also used for flavoring soups, pancakes, fishes, casseroles and sandwiches.
  • Chives are a main ingredient of a sauce called Gräddfil, served along with the traditional herring fish dish during the midsummer celebrations in Sweden.
  • It is served with the quark cheese in Poland.
  • This herb is one of the main ingredients of the famous French herb mixture “fines herbes”.
  • Their attractive flowers are used for garnishing and in salads.

Medicinal Uses

  • They are used for fighting various digestive problems and stomach disorders.
  • These medicinal plants are used for alleviating fatigue and tiredness.
  • It is sometimes used for controlling high blood pressure and lowering high levels of cholesterol.
  • It is also used for preventing cold.

Using Chives during Pregnancy

This mild flavored herb can be an excellent source of folic acid, fiber, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium and calcium when consumed in moderate amounts during pregnancy. Folic acid is one of the most important nutrients required during this period.

How to Cook Chives

Young Chives stalks are washed properly and chopped in order to be used in cooking. The small bulbs of these onion plants are also washed and chopped for using them for culinary purposes. However, care should be taken not to use very large amounts of this herb in cooking as it might hamper the taste of the food.

Storing Chives

Dry Chives cannot retain their beautiful aroma. Due to this reason freezing Chives is a good method for storing it. Fresh herb can be stored in a zip lock bag and kept under refrigeration. One can also chop the fresh herb after washing them properly and freeze them inside ice cubes in order to store them.

Substitute for Chives

No other herb can be a perfect substitute for a particular herb. However, one can use tarragon and green onion tops as a substitute for this herb in case it is absolutely unavailable.

Chives Recipes

This wonderful herb is used for preparing numerous delightful dishes including:

  • Sour Cream and Chive Rolls
  • Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Chives
  • Gourmet Mushroom Risotto
  • Blue Cheese, Bacon and Chive Stuffed Pork Chops
  • Smoked Haddock with Chive, Pea & Potato Crush
  • Creamy Goat’s Cheese with Chive & Pomegranate

Chives Side Effects

It does not usually cause any adverse health effects when consumed in moderate amounts. However, over consumption may result in stomach upset and digestive problems.

Chives Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting facts about the Chives plants:

  • They are the smallest species of edible onion.
  • Their scent  is repulsive to many types of insects.
  • The medicinal properties of Chives are similar to garlic, though much weaker. This fact limits their medicinal uses of.
  • These herbaceous plants were believed to be capable of providing protection from evil spirits.

Chives Price and Availability

This fresh herb is available in herb stores throughout the year. It is also available for online buyers at reasonable prices. The price for 1 pound of this herb ranges from $ 22 to $ 25.

Chives Pictures

Here are some images of Chives plants and their attractive flowers:

Photos of ChivesChives
Picture 3 – Chives Photo

Images of Chives
Picture 4 – Chives Image

These smallest edible onion plants are as popular as their larger relatives. Chives are considered to be one of the most popular herbs used in numerous cuisines. Their violate flowers are widely valued for their beauty and are often used in ornamental flower bouquets.

References:

http://www.ehow.com/how_4479001_grow-chives-indoors.html

http://www.gardenguides.com/452-chives-allium-schoenoprasum.html

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/chives.html

http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com/lounge/benefits-of-chives-2106.html

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-124.html

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