Chives Allium schoenoprasum
The chive is the smallest species of the much beloved Allium (onion) family. Perennial chives grow from bulbs in dense clumps (hence the plural name) that sprout grasslike, hollow, tubular leaves. In late spring or early summer, chives bear delicate, globe-shaped pink or purple blossoms that are also edible; these are quite delicious in salads and sprinkled atop dishes.

The flavor of chives is among the most delicate in the onion family, and they are better used raw or barely cooked. They constitute one of the famous fines herbes of French cooking, along with tarragon, chervil, and parsley. One cooking tip: Their thin leaves are easier to snip with scissors than to cut with a knife.

Chives are thought to be native to Britain, but they also grow wild in Greece and Italy. Europeans have grown chives since the Middle Ages, although both regular chives and the closely related garlic chive (Allium tuberosum) have been used in Asian cuisines for centuries.

Although they are not typically used in large enough quantities to be  a significant source of nutrients, chives do contain vitamins A and K, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium.

Commercially grown chives are available year-round. In farmers markets and CSA farms, chives often arrive in late spring and continue until fall. Chives typically bloom in late May or June, and you may see these edible blossoms bunched with or without leaves.

Choose chives that look fresh and plump, with no signs of wilting, yellowing, or other discoloration. Thicker-tubed leaves tend to be more fibrous than smaller ones.

Chives that are unwashed and tightly wrapped in a plastic bag will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator vegetable crisper. 

Trimming and Cleaning
Rinse quickly and gently pat dry to avoid bruising the tender leaves. The easiest way to chop them finely is to gather up a whole bunch of stems, slightly twist them together tightly lengthwise, and snip them with a pair of kitchen scissors.

You can freeze chives by snipping them into small lengths and freezing them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Then they can be placed in zipper-lock freezer or vacuum food sealer-type bags. No thawing is necessary before using.

Chives can be dried, although they lose much of their flavor this way. (If you really crave fresh chives in the winter, it’s better to keep a pot growing indoors!) However, if you want to dry them, spread chives in a thin layer on a baking sheet or tray and dry them in the oven at no hotter than 100°F for 4 to 6 hours, or until crisp.

Equivalents, Measures, and Servings
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives = 1 teaspoon dried
1 bunch = 1⁄2 cup chopped

Complementary Herbs, Seasonings, and Foods
Asparagus, butter, cheese (cottage, cream, goat, ricotta), chervil, chicken, crab, cream, eggs, fava beans, fish, ham, lemon, parsley, potatoes, salads, shellfish, soups, tarragon, vegetables.

Serving Suggestions
Combine chives with other herbs like chopped parsley and chervil, and sprinkle generously over scrambled eggs, omelets, and soft-boiled eggs.

Add a tablespoon of finely chopped chives to each cup of milk when making a white sauce to add color and flavor.

Snip a fresh spoonful over hot soups.

Stir chopped chives into softened butter, which can then be spread over rounds or split loaves of French bread and baked like garlic bread.

Tie up a couple chive leaves into spears, then use as a garnish atop or along-side puff pastry parcels, dumplings, deviled eggs, or open-faced crackers.
To add a gentle oniony flavor, sprinkle a few tablespoons of chives during the last minute of cooking stir-fries.

Give soft cheeses extra character with finely chopped chives.

Scatter chives over buttered carrots or peas, marinated leeks, and steamed vegetables of all kinds.

An Alpine treat is black rye bread spread with butter and chopped chives.

Lightly chopped or whole chive flowers make a lovely, edible garnish for summer salads and chilled soups.

Whip up a batch of chive soup by combining cooked potatoes, a handful of fresh chives, chicken stock, light cream, and seasonings in a blender or food processor.

Liven up a bowl of cottage cheese by sprinkling a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped chives over the top.

Salads of all sorts benefit from finely chopped chives—egg, potato, crab, chicken, Waldorf, shrimp, fava bean and pea—any where you’d want a touch of onion flavor.

Combine chives with a touch of mayonnaise or sour cream and use as a sandwich spread along with other finely minced herbs, deviled ham, or mashed hard-boiled egg yolk.

Used with attribution: Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook, by Mi Ae Lipe

Chive & Parmesan Popcorn

Highland Orchards Farm Market, is a small, family-owned and operated farm in northern Delaware, established 1832. We grow fruits and vegetables without synthetic chemicals or pesticides. We sell our produce through our farm market located on the farm, through our CSA program, and at two farmers’ markets in Philadelphia. Real food, a real farm, for people who really like to eat!