Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Herb Series–Chives


This perennial herb, “allium schoenoprasum” is from the Alliaceae family, and is native to Europe, Asia and North America. It is a small edible onion, quite common and readily available. Chives grow from a bulb and have small lavender blossoms. The stems can be flat or tubular and grow up to about 20 inches long.

Chives are most often used as a garnish, and if used in cooking should be added at the end of cooking as they lose flavor if overcooked. They can be used anywhere a mild onion flavor is desired.

Cultivation:

Chives can be started from seed, and can be started in early spring since they are cool weather tolerant. Their shallow roots will require frequent watering. Patches of chives will spread, causing the plants to weaken, so transplant as needed. The plants need full sun and sandy, loamy soil.

Harvesting:

Chives can be snipped as needed. It’s best to cut chives with scissors – using a knife could bruise the stems. Typically they do not dry well, but can be chopped and frozen. The lovely blossoms are edible, too. Simply rinse off and add to salads or use as a garnish.

Nutrition:

Chives are said to provide many nutrients – beta-carotene, vitamins A, C and K, calcium, folic acid and potassium, just to name a few.

Medicinal Use:

Chives are a member of the onion family and have the same potential benefits for lowering blood pressure and preventing blood clots. They contain allicin, which could lower LDL and raise HDL. Chives aid digestion by removing bacteria, fungi and yeast from the intestines. Glutathione produced by chives and working as an antioxidant may eliminate toxins that could potentially cause cancer.

So for very few calories chives pack a nutritional punch!
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In February I did a post about the "language” of flowers, but did you know that herbs also have meanings as well? Here are a few of our favorites:

Basil – good wishes, love
Bay – glory
Chamomile – patience
Chives – usefulness
Coriander – hidden worth
Fennel – flattery
Lavender – devotion, virtue
Lemon Balm – sympathy
Marjoram – joy, happiness
Mint – eternal refreshment
Oregano – substance
Parsley – festivity
Rosemary – remembrance
Sage – wisdom, immortality
Tarragon – lasting interest
Thyme – courage, strength

How about making a lovely bouquet of meaningful herbs for a friend? Or a living wreath? Simply use a floral foam wreath made for fresh flowers, insert the herb stems in an attractive design. Tie with a pretty bow and add a pair of scissors on a ribbon. They can snip the fresh herbs as needed in their kitchen. Of course, remind them to water or spritz the herbs from time to time to keep them fresh.
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Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

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