Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
They are the smallest species of the edible onions. A perennial plant, native to Europe, Asia and North America A. schoenoprasum is the only species of Allium native to both the New and Old Worlds.
We have this beautiful plant growing in our garden, thanks to the previous owner, but we didn’t know what it was. We finally settled on chives. Another friend told us that we can eat the purple bulbs, preferably sauteed in olive oil, but only before the bulbs flower. But, according to a book I found in our library, The Complete Book of Herbs, by Lesley Bremness, you can sprinkle the florets on salads for a mild onion flavor.
We have eaten them several times now, and they are delicious, with a nice, mellow onion flavor. They are a lovely, interesting garnish for sauces, vegetables and meat.
Chives can be frozen successfully, but are not suitable for drying. Wash the freshly picked chives, cut off or remove any undesirable parts, carefully pat dry, and freeze in small plastic freezer bags in amounts you would use at one time. The thaw quickly so add them directly from the freezer to the food you are cooking. (Canning, Freezing and Drying, Sunset)
Chives are a commonly used herb with many uses. They are a bulb-forming herbaceous, perennial plant. The bulbs are slender, conical, 2-3 cm long and 1 cm broad, and grow in dense clusters from the roots. The scapes are hollow and tubular, up to 50 cm long and 2-3 cm in diameter, with a soft texture. The leaves, which are shorter than the scapes, are also hollow and tubular and slightly tapering. Both the bulbs and the scapes are edible. The flowers are pale purple and star-shaped with six petals, 1-2 cm wide, and produced in a dense inflorescence of 10-30 together; before opening the inflorescence is surrounded by a papery bract. The seeds are produced in a small three-valved capsule, maturing in summer. The herb flowers from April to June.
Herbaceous-a plant that has leaves and stems that die down at the end of the growing season to soil level
Perennial- a plant that lives more than two years
Inflorescence- a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem
The growing plant has insect-repelling properties that can be used to control pests, and the juice of the leaves can be used for the same purpose, as well as fighting fungal infections, mildew and scab.
Its flowers are attractive to bees, which are important for gardens with an abundance of plants in need of pollination.
Chives are rich in vitamins A, C and K, calcium,iron and folate, contain trace amounts of sulfur, and are reported to have a beneficial effect on the circulatory system and mild stimulant, diuretic and antiseptic properties.
They are also cultivated for their ornamental value; the violet flowers are often used in ornamental dry bouquets.
The Romans believed chives could relieve the pain from sunburn or a sore throat. They believed eating chives could increase blood pressure and act as a diuretic. Romanian Gypsies have used chives in fortune telling. It was believed that bunches of dried chives hung around a house would ward off disease and evil.
When harvesting, the needed number of stalks should be cut to the base. During the growing season, the plant will continually regrow leaves, allowing for a continuous harvest.
The Complete Book of Herbs, Lesley Bremness
Canning, Freezing and Drying, Sunset