Cooking with Chives
Chives are useful to have growing near the kitchen. They are delicious and versatile with a mild onion flavour. Chives can be chopped up and added to salads and a variety of potato dishes including mashed and baked potatoes. They can also be used as an accompaniment to fish and egg dishes. Chives are best used fresh, rather than dried; however they may be frozen for use throughout the winter months.
Chives are an essential ingredient in the classic seasoning ‘fines herbes’, which is a mixture of chopped tarragon, chervil, parsley and chives (in equal measure). Chives should be used raw for maximum taste. They impart a delicious oniony flavour in salads, soups and stews; however if they are to be used in cooked dishes they should be added at the last moment to preserve their flavour and colour.Chive flowers are also edible. They have a delicate onion flavour and will liven up the appearance of salads and soups.
Using Chives as a GarnishChives are fantastic when used as a garnish. Their slender spears look beautiful on a plate and they have other uses too. They are perfect for tying up bundles of vegetables or puff pastry parcels or dumplings. You can also criss-cross small lengths of the spears into patterns on eggs or crackers covered with soft or hard cheese or spread. A simple sprinkling of finely chopped chives will make a bowl of soup look even more appetising. Chive flowers also make a good garnish to a variety of dishes.
Harvesting ChivesThe best way to enjoy fresh chives is to grow them yourself in a pot on your kitchen windowsill or outside in a container or herb garden. This enables you to have a fresh supply on demand from spring right through until autumn (if you grow chives indoors you could have a year-round supply). To harvest the leaves (or spears) simply cut them with scissors down to just a few inches above the ground to enable them to grow back.
When harvesting the leaves and flowers, ensure they are free from disease and pest infestation (such as aphids). If you grow chives yourself, it’s important to grow them organically to ensure you do not ingest any chemical pesticides or fertiliser residues. If you buy chives, try to buy organic plants, as commercially grown chives will have been treated with chemical pesticides or fertilised with artificial fertilisers. Wash chives thoroughly before eating.