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All about “Chives”

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Chives are an aromatic herb found in several dishes and sauces in French gastronomy. We recognize it thanks to its sweet and fresh flavor. It is found in the form of a small boot on our stalls but it is also easy to grow it at home.

Characteristics of chives:

  • Low in calories;
  • Source of antioxidants;
  • Source of vitamin K;
  • Source of vitamin C;
  • Helps fight against the appearance of certain cancers.

What is chives?

Chives identity card

  • Type: Herbal;
  • Family: Alliaceae;
  • Origin: Mediterranean basin, Southeast Asia and South America;
  • Season: March to October;
  • Green color ;
  • Flavor: Sweet.

Characteristics of chives

Chives are a bulbous plant whose long, thin green stems are eaten. During flowering, these stems have purple flowers resembling pompoms.

Word from the nutritionist

Herbs are usually not consumed in large quantities. Used as seasonings, they cannot then provide all the health benefits attributed to them. Adding herbs on a regular and significant basis to food contributes, if only in a minimal way, to the intake of antioxidants in the diet. On the other hand, consumption of herbs alone cannot meet the body’s antioxidant needs.

Nutritional values

For 100g of chives:

Nutrients                                                            Quantities                                                               
Protein 2.62 g
Fat 0.52 g
Carbohydrates 2.1g
Water 90.2 g
Fibers 3.19 g
Vitamin C 39.7 mg
Vitamin B9 78.3 µg
Beta carotene 1610 µg
Potassium 275 mg
Phosphorus 46.3 mg
Magnesium 23.8 mg

3 benefits of chives: why eat it?

  1. Antioxidants are compounds that reduce the damage caused by free radicals in the body. These are very reactive molecules which are implicated in the appearance of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and other diseases linked to aging. Some researchers have evaluated the antioxidant capacity of herbs and all agree that fresh herbs have a significant antioxidant capacity, sometimes even higher than that of certain fruits and vegetables. This shows that indeed, adding herbs regularly in the diet contributes to the intake of antioxidants. More specifically, the antioxidant activity of chives could be attributed to its modest content of vitamin C and carotenoids,
  2. An epidemiological study shows that eating vegetables from the alliaceae family (including chives, garlic and onion) could prevent stomach and esophageal cancer. In fact, in light of these results, people consuming Chinese chives one to three times a month would be 64% to 74% less likely to suffer from cancer of the esophagus or stomach than people who use it less than once a month. As mechanisms of action, the authors propose the antibacterial and antifungal properties of vegetables from the alliaceae family.
  3. Fresh chives are a source of vitamin K for women. Vitamin K is necessary for the synthesis of proteins involved in blood clotting (both in stimulating and inhibiting blood clotting). It also plays a role in bone formation. In addition to being found in food, vitamin K is manufactured by bacteria present in the intestine, hence the rarity of deficiencies in this vitamin.

How to choose your chives

Today, fresh chives are found in almost every grocery store. Grown in a greenhouse, it is significantly less fragrant than that grown in the ground, but out of season, this is the only way to get it.

Keep well

In the refrigerator: the leaves of both types of chives will keep for a week. The ideal is to put them in a damp cloth which one will rinse every day. They will dry out less this way. The narrow bulbs, without their leaves, keep for a few weeks.

In the dryer: the leaves dry poorly. Even store-bought freeze-dried chives have little flavor. On the other hand, the flowers support drying well.

In the freezer: you can freeze leaves and flowers by putting them, finely chopped, in the ice cube tray and covering them with water.

Put the flowers to macerate for a month in vinegar and filter. This aromatic vinegar will retain the aroma of the chives, in addition to the color of the flower. It is another way of preserving it.

Handle butter with chive leaves or tuberous garlic and freeze in small portions.

Preparation of chives

How to cook it? How to match it?

Mashed and garnished with chives, or in a field dress with sour cream and chive sauce, the potatoes take on a festive air. Omelets go wonderfully well with chives. All the court bouillons require chives. Use the minced leaves in stuffings, donuts and dim sum dishes.

Pretty and tasty
The open flowers, pink or white, chives and tuberous garlic are edible and brighten up soups and salads.

  • The salted herbs of Acadian cuisine are traditionally composed of onion stems, cive or salted chives. They are used to season meat or fish dishes. In Bas-du-Fleuve, the preparation is enriched with parsley, carrot tails or grated carrots, savory, etc. In fact, you can salt all the fresh herbs of your choice as they are harvested or purchased. Pack them in layers of about 2 cm in a glass jar, adding a generous portion of coarse salt between the layers. Fill with cold water, close the jar and keep cool.
  • Chervil, parsley, tarragon and chives together make up the mixture called herbs: fresh and finely chopped, they bring their aromas to green salads, omelettes, as well as chicken or poached fish. To prevent cooking from spoiling the taste, add them only at the last moment.
  • Cottage cheese seasoned with chives is a classic. Try the goat cheese, pounded with chives, green onions and minced chervil. Serve as an appetizer on crackers.
  • We prepare a taratoor with partially skimmed milk, plain yogurt and Greek yogurt (around 9% or 10% fat), a cucumber cut into sticks, a bunch of finely sliced ​​radishes, a good quantity of chopped chives, chopped parsley and mint, salt and pepper. Cover and let cool in the refrigerator before serving.
  • Prepare a chive flavored oil, passing a large handful of chives with oil in the blender. Pour into a sieve placed over a bowl and let drain for one hour. Discard the solids. Spread bread which will be heated for a few minutes in the oven with cheese.
  • Popcorn with parmesan and chives: sauté the corn, melt the butter and add the chopped chives and parmesan cheese. Pour the melted butter mixture over the popcorn and salt.
  • You can make a pancake with whole grains of spelled or Kamut, eggs, a large bunch of chives, onion and shallots. First you have to swell the beans overnight and cook them for half an hour. Then we add the alliaceae and the eggs to them, and we will make a paste that we will shape into a pancake. Add salt and pepper to taste. Fry.
  • In Asia, the flowering stems of tuberous garlic topped with their buds are eaten as a vegetable rather than a condiment herb. The button should be closed and tightened securely. Eliminate the fibrous parts of the stems and cut them into sections of a few centimeters. Sauté them for a minute over high heat in oil seasoned with a little sugar and set aside. Drizzle with soy sauce and mirin wine, thin strips of lamb or pork tenderloin, and sauté for just a few minutes. Add the pieces of tuberous garlic, reheat and serve. In the same way sauté tuberous garlic with strips of shiitake mushrooms.


Chives contain vitamin K. This vitamin, which is necessary among other things for blood clotting, can be produced by the body in addition to being found in certain foods. People taking blood thinners, such as those marketed under the names Coumadin®, Warfilone® and Sintrom®, should eat a diet in which the vitamin K content is relatively stable from day to day. Herbs, including chives, contain vitamin K and should therefore be used as a seasoning only. People on anticoagulation therapy are advised to consult a dietitian-nutritionist or a doctor in order to know the food sources of vitamin K and to ensure a daily intake as stable as possible.

History of chives

The term “chives” appeared in the language towards the end of the 14th century, following “chives” (13th century). In the first edition of its dictionary (1694), the French Academy defines chives as a “small scallion”. In the Middle Ages, it was called “appetite” by allusion to its appetizing properties.
The plant has had various names according to the times and the regions: civet garlic, wild onion, scorch, wild scorch, cives, fierce cives.
“Chinese chives”, “Chinese chives”, “garlic chives”, “tuberous garlic” designate another species (Allium tuberosum, syn. A. ramosum) consumed in the Orient, but less known here, whose leaves are flat rather than tubular.
According to the new botanical nomenclature, plants of the genus Allium now belong to the family of alliaceae, although they are still sometimes classified as liliaceae or amaryllidaceae.

Little is known about the origin of chives. It is possible that the tuberous garlic, also known as Chinese chives (Allium tuberosum), recently introduced in the West, but very common in the East, was born in China several thousand years ago. As for the common chive, it could have three centers of origin: the East of the Mediterranean basin, South-West Asia and North America, where at least two subspecies, that is Allium schoenoprasum var. sibiricum and A. schoenoprasum var. laurentianum, grow in the wild.

Chive milk

Dutch settlers intentionally planted chives in their pastures so that cow’s milk was flavored

Chives are native to Italy and Greece, as well as the Alps, and can be found as a crop escape wherever it has been grown. It is believed that the Romans introduced it to the North, Center and West of Europe where it quickly acclimated. It would have been cultivated there from the beginnings of the Middle Ages, at least if one relies on the capitular of Villis de Charlemagne (end of the 8th century), decree deciding the species which were to be cultivated in the imperial gardens. In the 16th century, in any case, it was cultivated throughout Europe, including in the British Isles. Today, it is the most widespread species of Allium in the northern hemisphere.

The chives will be introduced in North America by the first colonists. But, long before the arrival of the Whites, the Amerindians consumed the leaves and bulbs of the wild species that grew both in Canada and in the United States.

For further

Organic gardening

Both chives and tuberous garlic can be propagated by seed or by dividing tufts. There is no easier culture. Once installed, the plants will continue to produce year after year. However, it is recommended to regenerate the crop by dividing the plants every three or four years and changing them.

There are varieties of fine, medium and large leaf chives. The first and second are suitable for seasonal dishes, the latter are suitable for freezing. There are also varieties that have been crossed for indoor growing. All you need is good, rich soil and a window facing north or northeast. Production will not be very large, however, unless you have several pots.

At the time of flowering, the leaves take on a more pungent flavor. You can either cut the flower stems as they appear, or let the plants bloom which, later in the season, will make new leaves with a more delicate flavor.

In China, tuberous garlic plants are blanched by covering them to protect them from the sun. They then produce yellowish stems, more tender, and sought after by gourmets.

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