Late winter, early spring
Garlic Chives, Allium tuberosum
This variety produces white flowers that are an attractive addition to a home garden plot. New to North American cuisine, they are often found in traditional Chinese and Korean dishes.
Chives have been a favorite in China since 3000 B.C. and were used to stop bleeding and as an antidote to poison. They were also known as rush-leeks during the Middle Ages in Europe.
Chives are easy to grow from seed, but need a warm environment of about 65 degrees in order to germinate. They grow well in pots if partially shaded, and need regular watering and fertilizing.
Cut chives within 1 inch from ground, harvesting four times a year in order to maintain a fresh supply of leaves.
A fragrant herb with a mild onion flavor, chives are the smallest species in the onion family. Add to salads, entrees and side dishes for added flavor along with quercitin and vitamin C – both potential cancer fighters.
Chives are the only member of the onion family native to North America.
How to Buy:
Choose chives that are firm with a grassy green color. Avoid those that are slimy on the ends or an unattractive color.
How to Store:
Chives are best if consumed fresh, although they will keep in the refrigerator for about seven days if stored in a plastic bag. They can also be frozen or dried but the latter technique will reduce their flavor intensity.
How to Prepare:
Chives are a great garnish to soups and salads adding the perfect finishing touch. They can be used either chopped or whole for a dramatic look.