Fresh Cuts – Chives

This is the second post in the series titled Fresh Cuts. Each post features a different kitchen garden herb and fresh ways to incorporate it into your locavore meals. Today’s post is on fresh-cut chives. See my latest post on Italian Flat Leaf Parsley.

2012 was the first season we grew herbs in our patio garden. After a few summers of sad-looking tomatoes and cucumbers, we decided to go with herbs. That way they are close to the kitchen and are more appropriate for the 3’ x 3’ space.

Chive Blossom

Now the first thing that pops up in the Little Acre each spring is a clump of thin green chives. We always welcome their arrival as one of the first signs snow has left and warmer weather is on the way. Here’s our tiny chives shivering in a late snowstorm this year:

Chives in Snow

So, tell me about chives.

Chives are the common name for Allium schoenoprasum, a member of the onion family. It’s one of the most common kitchen herbs and can be found growing in the corners and edges of many gardens. Nearly all the long slender stems are edible and are used to add delicate onion or garlic flavors to dishes. The plants grow to 2” long and have a pretty light purple or pink flower in early spring.

Chive Blossom

Can I grow them in Minnesota?

Absolutely. Chives are one of the few herbs that survive as a perennial in our Zone 4 Minnesota climate. Many gardeners choose a spot in a flowerbed or herb garden that will stay safe from the tiller, and grow chives their season after season.

Like many perennials, chives will grow to a large cluster that eventually needs to be divided and replanted to stay healthy. I recommend finding a cluster of chives by dividing rather than growing them from seed. Check around your neighborhood and likely someone is ready to split a bunch. Chives also grow well in containers, both indoor and out.

Chive Plant

So I’ve got ‘em growin’, now how am I supposed to know when they’re ready to pick?

Chives are a hearty plant and can hold up to pickings early on. Look for stems that are between 8-24” long and deep green. Plan to pick right before you’re planning to use them. If left out for more than a few minutes chives start to wilt and lose the onion flavor.

Chives

To harvest, grab a bunch of stems and trim with a scissors or herb trimmers at the base of the plant near the soil. This encourages the plant to start growing new young shoots right away.
You can also harvest the blossoms for a garnish on salads and soups. Simply pick off the tops for a more bold onion flavor.

Top of Chive Plant

Now it’s time to make something with all these fresh cuts. What do you recommend?

When I think of fresh-cut chives, I automatically go to baby red potatoes and melted garlic butter. So. Good. Once you’ve made those, try some of my other favorites:

Cheddar Chive Buttermilk Biscuits – Carpe Season –  Nothing says brunch more than simple buttermilk biscuits dressed up with chives. I love watching the amazingly talented Liz & Eric at Carpe Season make these biscuits from scratch in the nifty video attached to this post.

Garlic Chive Butter – Mountain Mama Cooks – Whip up this butter in a few minutes, then spread it on steak, fish, or fresh veggies.

Millet with Cheese and Chives – Food 52 – Need a fast and local side dish but would rather not put the same old rice or pasta on the table – give millet a try with a bold asiago cheese and chopped chives.

Eggs in Chili Clouds – Kitchen Tested – If you’ve never made eggs in clouds, you’re truly missing out. How eggs do this in the first place completely blows my mind. Fluffy bottom, yolk in the middle, chives, bacon and parmesan throughout.

Chive Crusted Fish – My Life as a Mrs. -  Parmesan and chives baked over that filet of fresh fish you just caught out on the lake. What says summertime more than that?

Savory Cornmeal and Chive Waffles – Joy the Baker – Every so often I get the craving for breakfast for dinner. At least once a week. Changing up the usual pancakes and waffles is one of my favorite ways to make breakfast for dinner. These savory waffles make a great brunch, lunch or dinner meal.

3 Comments

  1. Yum! The red potatoes, chives, and garlic butter combination sounds so good, but I am especially intrigued by the Chive Crusted Fish. Great post!

  2. Thanks for the link! I love how low-maintenance chives are – they just keep popping up in the garden year after year with no help from me and somehow manag to stay alive despite my negligence 🙂

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