With a more delicate onion flavor, fresh chives won't
overpower your recipes. Add them to soups, salads and dips, or mix with
cream cheese (a classic combination).
Chives are the bright green, thin, hollow leaves of the Allium Schoenoprasum, a flowering plant in the onion family. Commonly used as an herb garnish, chives carry a mild, aromatic onion flavor that doesn't overpower foods. Chives are also included in "fines herbes," a traditional mixture of herbs essential to French cuisine.
HistoryThe ancient Chinese used chives as long as 3,000 years ago, and since then, much legend has surrounded the small, grass-like plant. The Romans believed chives could relieve pain from a sunburn or sore throat, and Romanian gypsies used chives in fortune telling. It was also believed that hanging bunches of dried chives around the home would ward off disease and evil.
VarietiesThe most common variety, regular chives, are considered to be European chives. Another variety, called garlic or Chinese chives, have broader, flat leaves and a noticeable garlic flavor. In Chinese cuisine, these are commonly used in long cuts and tossed into stir-fry and other cooked dishes.
Buying TipsChives can be found near other fresh herbs in produce section of most supermarkets year-round. Look for uniformly sized leaves that are evenly green in color. Avoid dry or wilting chives that show signs of yellowing. Chives are also available freeze-dried in the spice aisle, but they don't carry much flavor in this form.
Storage TipsPlace fresh chives in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator for up to one week. Don't wash or cut them until ready to use.
If you have an abundance of chives growing in your garden, you can freeze the extras. Wash and dry completely, then chop and place in an airtight container or freezer bag for up to 12 months.
Usage TipsHeat lessens the flavor of chives–add them to cooked dishes at the last moment.
Serving Tips• Sprinkle chopped chives over tomato soup, chili or vichyssoise.
• Add to coleslaw or potato, tuna and egg salads.
• Toss with buttered noodles or rice.
• Mix into sour cream or cream cheese dips.
• Add to melted butter and drizzle over squash, carrots and peas.
Substitution Tips• Chopped scallions can be used in place of chives, but the onion flavor will be more pronounced.
• 1 tablespoon fresh chives = 1 teaspoon dried.
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