Chives: More Than Baked Potato Garnish

Chives are frequently enjoyed as a form of culinary side order; people enjoy chives as they are sprinkled in rich abundance on baked potatoes, pizzas, and other culinary delights.  Yet these tiny herbs have a massive power that packs a punch with every single taste, and play an important role as they populate the home and kitchen gardens of people around the world.

True, unlike other herbs, the chive isn’t known as a strong healing agent, or as being a potent, emotional symbol in any major culture.  Even so, for an herb of such miniscule size, the chive is worth studying as a thing of beauty and a gift to the taste buds.

What to look for:
Chives stand among the most fragrant and flavorful members of the onion family.  These ivory-hued bulbs grow close together and rarely extend beyond a scant few inches in height.  Its flowers resound a lovely purple, or purple with a bluish cast; also lovely is the nectar produced by chive flowers.

Oddly enough the plants are very tall, and will have very unique and exotic looking flowers on the top and can be found wild. They will get about 30-50 cm tall, and have many uses in the culinary field. Chives are the only species of Allium coming from both the old and new world.  Sometimes, the plants found in North America are classified as A. schoenoprasum var. sibiricum, but not everyone shares this opinion. There are many differences to argue this; one example was found in northern Maine growing all by itself, rather than with a group, and they also have grey ‘dirty’ flowers displayed.

Mother Nature loves it:
A close cousin to garlic, the chive is grown—both cultivated and wild—on virtually every continent throughout the world.  The chive will grow in just about any soil, but should be divided by clumps.  Clumps, consisting of about six chives each, should be planted up to a foot apart.  Chives flourish in shade and bloom most frequently during the summer months.

It is thought, and believed that farmers would plant chives in the middle of rocks making up the borders of their flowerbeds, this was like a fortress for the plants, keeping nasty  beetles and other crop damaging bugs from the food. While the growing plant repels unwanted insect life, the juice of the leaves can be used for the same purpose, as well as fighting things like fungus and and mildew. The flowers that are displayed are often eye catchers for pollinating bees and other flying insects.

How to use it:
Bearing great taste and an enticing aroma, the chive is an ideal additive for salads, omelettes, baked or mashed potatoes, soup, sausages, croquettes, beefsteak puddings and pies.  The chive, like other members of the onion tribe, contains a flavorful oil, one that is rich and abundant in sulphur.  This oil is primarily responsible for the very distinctive smell and supple taste of the herb we know as a chive.

As an additive to salads, cut and chopped chives are ideal for inclusion among green leaves, cucumbers, and even atop tomatoes.  Some people simply won’t eat a salad unless it abounds with some tangy, tasty chives.  Sour cream and chives form an unbeatable team as a topping for baked potatoes and spicy dishes.  And aside from being a fun, tasty food for people, chives are eaten in abundance by newly hatched turkeys.  It seems no one can resist the sweet temptation of a chive!

The Russians believed that chives were the cure for aches and pains caused from sunburns and sore throats. Of course today you find chives on steak dinners, baked potato’s and many other culinary dishes. It is believed that the gypsy’s would use chives to help with their fortune telling.

The next time you enjoy a chive, whether it’s atop a potato, salad, or omelette, or as a sumptuous accent to your favorite soup, remember the rich heritages and multiple uses of this tasty treat.  Go ahead and treat yourself to its rich, full flavor; pick up some chives today!

Sonya Lee

Since a child, Sonya has been traveling from the corners of Canada to the far east Asia. Born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, she led a normal family life with her brother, mother and dad. A well received job opportunity in Hong Kong for her father put the compass in action from a young age. Sonya loves good food, and I mean GOOD simple food. She loves an occasional drink, be merry and enjoy the good times. Having recently healed herself from a large ruptured cyst, her favorite foods include fresh carrot juice, grilled vegetables, sauteed portabello mushrooms and truffle french fries. Her philosophy? Healthy food makes a healthy body. Read more on the Editor page. When she's not fretting over WAFT, she runs a small design agency called mowie media and shares the good times with her dog, Monster and 3 cats Sabi, Kaeli & Misty.

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