Chives – Allium schoenoprasum

by Gini Sage

The culinary history of chives dates back to ancient China, around 3000 BC, where they were harvested from the wild. Members of the onion family, chives have a much milder flavour, and can be used to replace onions by those who find them difficult to digest.

Both traditional chives and garlic chives prosper in our area. In the kitchen, chives are used most often with soft cheeses, eggs, soups, salads and dressings, and on baked potatoes. Chives lose much of their flavour when dried, but they can be harvested and kept in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Named ‘Infant Onion’, the bulbs may also be harvested and pickled.

Chives are native to Europe, and were introduced and naturalized in North America. They are a hardy perennial, which grows well in full sun to partial shade, forming a clump of thin, tubular leaves. In the late summer, chives form a small light mauve flower. To encourage leaf growth, the flower stems should be removed. Grow in either pots or the garden, in well-drained medium loam. Plant either the seeds in early spring, or divide the clumps in spring or fall.

Article originally published in the Uxbridge Horticultural Society Newsletter, June 2007

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