Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) belong to the lily family. Chives are part of the allium family of vegetables and herbs, which also includes garlic, scallions, onions and leeks.
Allium vegetables have been cultivated for centuries for not only their characteristic, pungent flavors but also for their medicinal properties. The entire plant is edible, from bulb to flower.
Chives are high in fiber, which acts as a laxative, and folate, which is essential for DNA synthesis, and cell division.
They’re an excellent source of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese and also provide healthy amounts of thiamin, niacin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, phosphorus, riboflavin, and zinc. This combination of phytochemicals is known to promote ease in digestion, soothe upset stomachs, prevent bad breath, and have a diuretic effect that can lower high blood pressure.
The fiber content helps clean the colon and shorten the time foods spend there (and therefore lowers your colon cancer risk. Other advantages of eating chives include having anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antimicrobial properties.
Like other allium members, chives contain antioxidants that kill free radicals. Studies show allicin can cut cholesterol production by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme responsible for producing cholesterol in liver cells, decreasing blood pressure, blocking platelet clot formation, and lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Allium vegetables have been studied extensively in relation to cancer, especially stomach and colorectal cancers. Their beneficial and preventative effects are likely due in part to their rich organosulfur compounds.
Chives are a nutrient-dense food, meaning that while they are low in calories they are high in beneficial nutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Just 1 tbsp. of chives supplies many vitamins and minerals, including 9 mg of potassium, 3 mg of calcium, 78 mcg of beta-carotene, 3 mcg of folic acid and 6 mcg of vitamin K. Chives also supply lesser amounts of magnesium, iron and trace amounts of several B vitamins.
Adding chives is a great way to add flavor to a dish. Chives are a tender herb that have gentle stems and are best to add either raw or near the end of cooking in order to maintain their delicate flavor and texture.
When preparing chives, use a sharp knife and cut gently. Using a dull knife or over-chopping will bruise the herb and much of the flavor will be misplaced onto the cutting board surface.1
People love its delicate flavor, green, lightly sharp, with just the right amount of onion.
Add chopped chives generously to any dish and enjoy the bonus of their bright green color.
They are wonderful in egg dishes, soups, pastas, potatoes, stir fries, and just about anything your imagination can create, like savory pancakes with chives and mushroom (photo).
You can buy chives year-round, but their flavor (and aroma) is much more pungent when they’re freshly cut in season.
Use kitchen shears to strategically snip at the base to make room for new growth, taking care not to hack away or give them a bad haircut.
Chives are hardy and vigorous perennial herbs.
Ornamental and savory, the lush clumps of dark green leaves and bountiful blossoms work well as a perennial border as well as the herb or vegetable garden.
The flowers also attract beneficial insects that feast on pests and pollinate crops.
Chives are cool-season, cold-tolerant perennials that are planted in early spring. Chives thrive in full sun. Soil needs to be moist, fertile, rich, and well-draining.
In the garden, plant chives next to carrots. Be mindful when planting this herb, as it will take over your garden if the flowers are left to ripen and scatter the seeds. Blooming is prolonged by picking off the spent blossoms.
Chives can be easily grown in pots on a sunny windowsill, or outside on your porch.
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