The mild flavor of chive that resembles onion is the reason why this is the best garnish for many dishes; it adds just enough to complete the taste and does not overpower the key flavor signature of the food. The flavor of chive is the reason why chives are best as a garnish for soups and dips. Drizzle your baked potatoes with chives, and you are good to go! Sprinkle chives on omelets and seafood dishes to make the dish tastier. Even a novice cook can’t go wrong with using chives.
Humans have used chives for food and other purposes since 3000 BC in Asia, Europe, Australia, and North America. Ancient Romans fed wrestlers, racehorses, and workers with chives because they believe chives are a source of physical strength.
Species: A. schoenoprasum
Binomial Name: Allium schoenoprasum
- Romans used chives for their sunburnt skin or sore throats.
- Chives is a natural insect repellent. Plant this in your garden to help control pests.
- Chives provide pollinators with nectar. In the UK, chives are among the top 10 for most nectar produced.
- Chives is a popular plant grown in hydroponic systems.
- 19th-century Dutch farmers fed their cattle with chives, thinking this will change the taste of the milk.
- Fortune-tellers use chives to see the future.
- Dried chives protect the house from evil spirits and disease.
Chives Buying Guide
You can buy chives in grocery stores and markets, sourced from commercial growers.
When buying chives, check the condition of the leaves. There should be no yellowing or any sign of moisture or mildew. Look at chives sold in plastic packs because this spoils fast because of the packaging. It is always best to buy from local growers selling in farmers markets. Here, there is a good chance chives are fresher and sold in better quality.
There are several varieties of chives sold in markets.
- Common Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) – This has a 10- to 12-inch spiked foliage topped with lavender-colored globed flowers. Cooks use this on soups and salads.
- Garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) – This plant grows to 24 inches tall and has flat grass-like foliage and white star-shaped flowers appearing on tall stalks in late summer to early fall. Cooks use this on stir-fry and meat dishes.
- Giant Siberian chives (Allium ledebourianum) – This variety is the best-tasting chive. Giant Siberian chives share the same appearance as common chives, only taller and with round, rosy-violet flower heads that can grow as large as 2 inches in diameter in late summer.
- Siberian Garlic Chives (Allium nutans) – This variety of chive is also known as blue chives because it has blue-green colored foliage and pink blossoms that emerge in midsummer.
Chives Production & Farming in Texas
Chives are also grown in home gardens. It is native to various US states but not Texas. Nonetheless, farmers and plant growers cultivate chives here, either on a commercial production scale or as part of the vegetation of the home garden.
Plant chive seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the last spring frost. Sow seeds outside if soil temperature is anywhere between 60º and 70ºF (15º and 21ºC). Chives need full sun and a loamy, slightly acidic to neutral, well-draining soil. Cut the flowers before these are fully-developed to avoid scattering the seeds and control the chive population in your garden. Remember that chives become dormant during the summer because of the temperature.
Pests typically found in chives include thrips and aphids. You should use horticultural oil, natural pyrethrins, or insecticidal soaps to kill thrips and aphids.
Chives are native to some parts of Europe, Asia, and North America.
The U.S. National Plant Germplasm System lists the different regions and countries where chives are native to based on different categories.
- Western Asia – Iran, Iraq, Turkey
- Caucasus – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russian Federation [Dagestan]
- Siberia: Russian Federation [Buryatia, Gorno-Altay, Tyva, Respublika, Yakutia-Sakha, Altay, Krasnoyarsk, Taymyr, Chita, Irkutsk, Kemerovskaja oblast’, Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Tyumen, Jamalo-Neneckij avtonomnyj okrug]
- Middle Asia – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan
- Russian Far East: Russian Federation [Habarovskij kraj, Primorye, Kamčatskij kraj]
- China [Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu]
- Eastern Asia: Japan [Hokkaidô, Honshu]
- India Subcontinent: Pakistan
- Northern Europe: Denmark, Finland, United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden
- Middle Europe: Czechoslovakia, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Poland
- Eastern Europe: Russian Federation [Neneckij avtonomnyj okrug]
- Southeastern Europe – Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Romania
- Southwestern Europe: Spain, France (incl. Corsica), Portugal
- Subarctic America – Canada [Northwest Territories, Yukon], United States [Alaska]
- Eastern Canada – Québec, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador
- Western Canada – Saskatchewan, Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, Nunavut
- Northeastern U.S.A. – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia
- North-Central U.S.A. – Minnesota, Wisconsin
- Northwestern U.S.A. – Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Wyoming
- Southeastern U.S.A. – Maryland
Fresh chives are either tied in a bundle or placed inside a plastic pack.
You can buy dried chives in bottles. Vendors also sell refill packets containing dried chives.
There are a variety of ways to use chives in cooking. According to the 1806 book Attempt at a Flora, you can make pancakes using chives. You cannot make gräddfil sauce with traditional herring (a Swedish midsummer celebration dish) without using chives. And the only way to enjoy quark, a dairy product popular in Poland and Germany, is by serving it with chives.
Preserving chives is easy. Wrap it in a paper cloth or towel and put it inside the refrigerator to extend the freshness of the chive. This will keep the chives fresh for 10 to 14 days. If you want it preserved for longer, chop it into small pieces, put it in an ice cube tray, fill it with water, and freeze it. This will keep the chives fresh for 4 to 6 months, but only if it remains frozen at 0°F at all times. Remember that storing chives does not affect the flavor of chives, but the condition of the chives will be affected if the refrigerator temperature is not consistent. If chives become soft or soggy or smells bad, discard it.
The use of the green stalks of the chives is widely known. But did you know that you can cook or eat the unopened, immature flower buds as well? Cooks use this part of the chive to make omelets, fish, potatoes, and soups, among others. You’d be surprised to know as well that the full-grown flowers are edible too. You can use it in salads.
Chives are made up of 91% water, 4% carbohydrates, 3% protein, and 1% fat. It also contains vitamins A, B1 (Thiamine), B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B5 (Pantothenic acid), B6, B9 (Folate), C, E, and K. It also contains minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
- Calcium: 92.00mg
- Iron: 1.60mg
- Potassium: 296mg
- Sodium: 3mg
There are many benefits to eating chives. It detoxifies the body and helps prevent cancer and osteoporosis. It helps improve memory and eyesight and helps with the treatment of digestive issues. It improves heart health and boosts the body’s immunity. If you are an insomniac, eating chives may help you sleep. Chives also contribute to having healthy skin and healthy hair.
When Are Chives in Season in Texas?
To find out when Chives 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.