Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out if chives are herbs or if they are a wonderful and tasty medicine. Not only do they provide flavor to a variety of dishes, they are rich in healthy minerals and vitamins. You can grow chives (Allium schoenoprasum) both indoors and outdoors. Their healthful contents include vitamins C and A, along with the minerals potassium and calcium. The flavor of chive leaves is very nearly like an onion, but milder. Actually, the several parts of the plant are frequently used in cooking, including the stems, flowers and leaves. Chives are best added to dishes at the last possible moment–heat can cause their flavor to wane. Chive stems are usually snipped with scissors.
The best way to use chives is freshly snipped. They can also be frozen without much loss of flavor. Dried chives are also a possibility, but this is least desirable. You should sort through the chives before adding them to your dish. Keep the plump green leaves and shoots while discarding any yellow ones. Another interesting use is to add chives to non-iodized salt. Remove the leaves after a couple of weeks you are left with versatile and flavorful “chive salt.”
In the garden, chives grow to about one foot tall. The plants are perennial, which means they should last for several seasons. And talk about easy to grow! Chives will make you feel like a champion gardener. They tolerate drought, shrug off diseases and pests, and can do just fine without fancy fertilzer. Plant them in full sun for best results (although they will tolerate light shade). Soil should be well-drained, but moist. Chives grow so well that they tend to crowd themselves, so you’ll need to thin the herd ever couple of years.
You can grow chives from seed or divide a clump from your garden and plant it in a pot. Chives prefer from five to eight hours of sun every day, so your best locations will be an eastern or southern exposure. Turn the plants regularly to make sure all sides get sun. Like many other herbs, chives are also equally happy under flourescent lighting.
In the garden, chives play well with several other plants, especially carrots, tomatoes and fruit trees.
Add chives to eggs, casseroles, gravies, meat and seafood. They also augment butter, cheese, sour cream and, of course, baked potatoes. Chive blossoms make a great garnish, especially for salads. Even the stems are useful for bundling up vegetables for compliment-inducing appetizers.