Chervil, known by other names such as French parsley and garden chervil, is one of the four components (including chives, tarragon, and parsley) forming what is known as fines herbes, the French herb mixture used for seasoning dishes. This aromatic herb can grow as high as 24 inches and extend outwards with a width of 12 inches. Grown similar to cool-season crops like lettuce, chervil requires early spring planting. It grows best in a cool and moist location.
Easter celebrants cook chervil soup during Holy Thursday because this is a tradition for people celebrating Easter. Chervil grew in popularity that Pliny and Nicholas Culpeper both praised chervil and food cooked with chervil for its ability to nourish and give comfort.
People also eat chervil to relieve hiccups. This practice dates back to the Middle Ages.
Species: A. cerefolium
Binomial Name: Anthriscus cerefolium
- The origin of the name chervil in Ancient Greek means leaves of joy.
- You can bait slugs using chervil.
- Some varieties of chervil have edible roots.
- Before it became a favorite of French chefs, it was the Greeks and the Romans who enjoyed eating food that had chervil.
- People thought chervil smells like myrrh, that is why they used to call chervil Myrrhis.
- Folk medicine believes in the potency of chervil in sharpening the wit as well as helping achieve youthful rejuvenation.
Chervil Buying Guide
Spot a fresh bunch of chervil in the market by inspecting the color of the leaves. It should have a vibrant color and looks clean overall. Smell it also. The aroma of chervil should be enough to indicate whether it is fresh or if it is starting to spoil. If the bunch has a lot of wilted stalks or brown spots, do not buy it.
If you are ordering from an online vendor, you have choices in quantity, from a single order of 4-ounce chervil to a 10-pound single order. It varies depending on the vendor.
There are two varieties of chervil sold in the market. You must know this so that you do not end up buying the wrong chervil.
- Curly or curled chervil – This variety of chervil has slightly curly leaves and is also called crispum. Brussel’s Winter is an example of a curly or curled chervil.
- Flat chervil – This variety resembles Italian parsley. It is spread out, unlike the clustered small leaves of the curly chervil bunched together. Vertissimo is an example of flat chervil.
Difference: Use curly chervil for decoration or to add a bitter taste. You can use the flat chervil if you need the robust flavor of this herb.
Chervil Production & Farming in Texas
There is an indication that chervil is not rare in Texas. In the book Wildflowers of Houston and Southeast Texas, it says that chervil “ranks as one of the Houston area’s most abundant spring wildflowers, for it lines roadways and covers vacant lots from March through May.”
The Herb Society of America – South Texas Unit advises Houston residents who are interested in planting chervil to plant the seeds in the fall between October to December in a partially shaded area of the garden.
Warm temperature is an important consideration when growing chervil because this plant is a cool-season biennial herb, so put chervil plants in a sheltered area with partial shade. Chervil can also be an annual or perennial plant, depending on its condition.
The USDA designates Hardiness Zones 3 to 7 as the best locations for growing chervil, which means the best places to grow chervil in Texas are Amarillo (Zone 6), Lubbock, and El Paso (Zone 7).
Winter is the perfect time for growing chervil in areas categorized as Zone 8, 9, and 10. Dallas, Waco, Bryan College Station, Austin, Houston, and San Antonio is Zone 8, while Corpus Christi and Laredo are Zone 9A. McAllen is Zone 9B.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
Slugs and aphids are the two common pest problems when it comes to chervil. Farmers and growers use several chemical substances to protect chervil plants from pests as well as diseases.
- Rotenone – an odorless, colorless, broad-spectrum insecticide, piscicide, and pesticide used against aphids, thrips, and other soft-bodied sucking insects.
- Malathion – an organophosphate insecticide which acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, used to fight aphids.
- Pyrethrum – an insecticide made from the dried flower heads of Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium and Chrysanthemum coccineum that keeps insects away from chervil plants.
- Wettable sulfur – used to control certain insects and prevent specific diseases that can cause the chervil plant serious problems.
Chervil is native to the Caucasus. The spread of chervil throughout Europe was the result of the expansion of the Roman empire in 27 BCE. The cultivation of chervil started in Europe in the 16th century. Today, there is the cultivation of chervil in almost every part of the world.
The known natural habitat of the chervil include forests, valleys, and grassy places on mountain slopes.
Dried chervil leaves sold in markets come in bottles or packets. Vendors sell fresh chervil leaves stored inside a transparent plastic clamshell packaging to allow you to see the condition of the leaves inside.
Chervil packaging may come in a variety of types: plastic food-grade zip lock bag, food-grade liner inside a box, or pail pack, among others. Also, some online vendors allow you to choose the type of packaging you want to use for the chervil you purchased.
Food cooked or garnished with chervil exudes an anise-like flavor with a hint of pepper. It also resembles the taste of parsley.
You can preserve fresh chervil by putting it in a zip lock bag. Make sure there is air inside it and secure the bag correctly before storing it in the vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator. If some of the leaves become wilted, do not throw them away. A quick ice water bath will invigorate the leaves. You can also put them in a vase with water and cover the top part with a plastic bag before refrigerating it.
Do not store chervil along with ethylene-producing fruits (apples, avocados, banana, mangoes, pears, peaches, and plums, etc.) or vegetables because ethylene causes the herbs to degrade and lose its freshness.
French chefs and cooks use chervil to season meats, vegetables, soups, and sauces. Use chervil if you are seasoning bulgur wheat, couscous, pasta, rice, or stuffings. If there is one food that highlights chervil as its main ingredient, it is the béarnaise sauce.
Chervil loses its flavor when overcooked. Make sure to wash and thoroughly dry frozen or refrigerated chervil before using it.
An article published in Science Alert entitled Chervil: A Multifunctional Miraculous Nutritional Herb describes chervil as being 99% nutritious and noted that the herb has no cholesterol. Included in the list of vitamins and minerals found in chervil are as follows: vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, A, C, and E, iron, magnesium. Chervil also has phenolic antioxidants like zeaxanthin, lutein, and cryptoxanthin, as well as dietary fiber.
- Calcium: 1346.00mg
- Iron: 31.95mg
- Potassium: 4740mg
- Sodium: 83mg
Chervil helps improve the digestive condition. Also, you can use to treat skin problems, varicose veins, and hemorrhoids. The iron and zinc in chervil make it useful in fighting anemia.
When Are Chervil in Season in Texas?
To find out when Chervil are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.