How To Grow And Use Chives

Common name: Chives
Scientific name: allium schoenoprasum

Uses of chives in foods Preserving chives 
Health benefits of chives Chives nutrition facts
Planting chives Chives fun historical facts


Chives (Alium fistulosum & Allium schoenoprasum) is a perenial aromatic and culinary herb that belongs to the Allium family. Usually the slender leaves are use raw or cooked, snipped finely to enhance with a delicate flavor of many dishes. Chives grow to about 12 inches and have lovely flowers that can be used as a decorative touch on serving platters or plates.

English is an interesting language and I should be remiss if I did not point out that chive (singular) refers to the plant and chives (plural) is always used when discussing the culinary herb.

Different varieties of chives

Chives belong to a family of plants that includes around 500 plants from which we mostly know onion, green onions, leeks, garlic and shallots. The varieties of chives we use most frequently are :

  • Garlic chives also known as Chinese chives. They have flatter and broader leaves. Taste a little more like garlic. They will reward you with beautiful whites flowers near September.
  • Onion chives are really scallions, that is immature green  onions.
  • Chives herbs (the most commonly grown in our homes and gardens, and the one we use when referring to the shorten reference: chives.

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Uses of chives in foods

It is an indispensable herb in fine cooking. It has a flavor that is milder and more sophisticated than green onion, and it is so easy to grow, why would we want to avoid it.

  • When buying chives: color should be a nice dark green, stems should be firm and the characteristic perfume of chives should emanate.
  • Always snip chives with scissors as using a chopper tend to crush it and lessen the flavor.
  • If you plan on adding it to a hot dish, you should add it at the end of cooking time to preserve its flavor.


Use Chives in your cuisine as following:

 Fines Herbs baked eggs and chives : a traditional French seasoning mix recipe is composed of parsley, chives, chervil, and tarragon. It is a great accompaniment for omelets, green salads, chicken or poached fish.You can use chive in vinaigrettes, with raw vegetables, salads, canapés, cooked vegetables (cauliflower, potatoes, carrots). You can also enhance cream base sauces, and soups.In addition you can add a delicate flavor  to omelets, fish cakes, fish and shellfish, turkey, rice dishes, pizzas, fondues, gratins…

Chives flowers are also edible, and can be added to salad, meats and sauces to which they add a little color and much flavor.

 Flavored oils and vinegars  : You can seep fresh chives in oil for a period of 2 weeks to perfume another wise ordinary oil. To perfume vinegar, heat wine or cider vinegar and pour it over slightly crushed chives.

Green onions, shallots or leeks can be use as substitute for chives. However you should only use a chives substitute when you really cannot get the real thing, as there is nothing quite as delicate as the taste of chives.

How to preserve chives for later use? Can you freeze chives?

  • You can freeze chives very successfully. First wash and dry the leaves, then snip them and put them in small freezer bags.
  • Drying chives is the least favorable means to preserve fresh chives as much of the flavor is lost in the process. Nothing will match the savor of fresh leaves. You can really have a pot of fresh chives in your kitchen and never run out of this wonderful condiment. If you need to preserve cut stems for a couple of days, it is better to keep them in the fridge, placed on a tray between two layers of damp paper towel.

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Health benefits of Chives 

Chives are rich in beta carotene, and antioxidants (prevention of cardiovascular disease). They contain B vitamins, and a fair amount of vitamin C as well as mineral salts. However considering the small quantity that we eat often much less than an ounce, it does not really affect our well being. All I can recommend is that you grow some chives and eat them as often as you can. The good thing is that since they do not have any calories to speak of so you can pile them on as much  as you wish. So do yourself a favor and use more chives and less salt.

They are anti-bacterial and fungicidal.

They also stimulate appetite and digestion. They are diuretic and stimulate blood circulation.


Nutritrional values of chives – Chives nutrition facts


Nutrition Facts

Serving size 1 cup (60g)

Amount Per Serving

Calories 22                     Calories from fat 4

% Daily Value*

Total Fat  0g                                                 1%

        Saturated Fat 0g                                  0%

        Trans Fat 0g                                       

Cholesterol 0mg                                         0%

Sodium 34mg                                              1%

Total Carbohydrates 4g                            1%

        Dietary Fiber 2g                                    8%

        Sugars 2g                               

Proteins 2g    

Vitamin A     101%            Vitamin C      133% 

Calcium           8%            Iron                    2%

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.


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Chives through the ages 

More than 5000 years ago the Chinese were already cultivating a plant similar to today’s chive that they used not only in cooking but also as a natural anti venom and to prevent hemorrhages. It was not until the 16th century and Marco Polo’s expeditions that it was introduced in Europe. Soon it became known as “appetites” for its appetite stimulating qualities. It first grew around the Mediterranean, but it easy adaptability made it a good traveler, and it spread to the rest of the world.

In Holland, it was sown in the meadows, to add a little perfume to cow’s milk.


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Growing chives from seeds is possible, you can either buy seeds in stores or let your own plants produce seeds for propagation.

To successfully keep your chives in pot through the winter, you must bring them in. They do make a great kitchen plant and thrive near a window.

Chives diseases and pests

Onion flies: leaves will fade and yellow, and the plant will grow slowly. To prevent onion flies you can use an organic insecticide on still healthy plants and remove those that are too far affected to be saved.

Rust: sometimes leaves will show orange spots. Remove these plants and grow a different species in this pot or spot. Choose a new location to grow a new chives plant.


Harvesting chives

Harvesting chives can be done year round by cutting leaves as you need them.

Cut flower before they go to seed, if you plan on using them in your salads as they are delicious to eat.


Grieve M. A Modern Herbal, 1931. chives.
Encyclopedia Britannica. chives.
USDA nutritional information chives

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