Four culinary species of chives are widely grown for their foliage; fragrant garlic chives from central Asia, with red striped petals; onion chives, with umbels of pink flowers; garlic or Chinese chives with white flowers and delicious, garlic scented strap like foliage chives, with mauve flowers and both a green and variegated leaf form.

The plant requires a well tilled and weed free soil, good drainage and a sunny position. Raise all forms and their relatives by seed. Regular weeding is essential, particularly in the earlier stages of growth. Do not over water. Use the foliage fresh.

Depending on the variety, the edible stems have a mild onion or garlic flavour that goes well with sauces, stews, mashed vegetables, fish, poultry and egg dishes, cream cheeses and salad dressings. The delicate flavour is easily destroyed by heat, so add during the last few minutes of cooking time, or scatter them on a finished dish to garnish.

Snip the stems with scissors rather than chop them with a knife. They are essential in the French fines herbes together with chervil, parsley and tarragon. Snip finely and freeze in ice cube trays to preserve. The flowers make a pretty garnish.

information sourced from The Complete Book of Herbs

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