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~ Fresh Chives: The 1st Herb of Our Spring Garden ~

PICT2736As far back as I can remember, freshly-picked chives meant Spring had arrived and Summer was right around the corner.  My dad had quite a large vegetable garden back then, and, he loved chives.  My mom always stirred them into mashed potatoes and sprinkled them on top of baked potatoes.  To this day, mashed or baked potatoes without chives seem naked to me.  As soon as I was old enough to play with scissors, on almost a daily basis, my mom would say, "go down to daddy's garden and snip me some chives for supper".  I loved their pretty purple-pink flowers, and, as a child, it seemed very unfair that my mom didn't much like them after they bloomed, the sign that chives are past their prime.  That being said, bees love those pretty pink flowers, so I was very careful to never get close enough to pick them for a bouquet!

PICT2735A bit about chives:  Chives are hearty perennials belonging to the same family as onions, leeks and garlic.  In French cuisine, chives are one of the "fines herbes", along with tarragon, chervil and/or parsley. They grow in clumps from underground bulbs, getting to be 10"-20" tall, and, if not cut for culinary use, produce large, round, edible, flowers.  This fragrant, mild-onion-flavored herb has slender, tubular stems/leaves which resemble hollow blades of grass when young/tender, and, green scallion tops when mature/woody.  

PICT2743Chives are at their best when they are young and tender, about 6"-8" tall, and, to harvest them, using a pair of scissors, simply cut the leaves about 2" from their base.  Chives are also at their best when used fresh as a garnish, but are delicious added to all sorts of cooked dishes (soups, sauces, vegetables) too.  That being said, they should be added or stirred in at the end of any cooking process as they lose their flavor with prolonged cooking.  I particularly love them stirred into and used as a garnish on potato pancakes!

PICT2732Great News!  Fresh chives can be frozen!

While I love fresh chives, I do not like dried chives at all, and, I do not recommend wasting time drying them or buying dried chives.  Fresh chives are super easy to grow yourself and can be frozen, which means you can harvest large quantities of them while they are at their prime and have them on hand all year long.  Our chives have been going gangbusters this year, and, I've been harvesting and freezing them for a couple of weeks now.  Here is how my grandmother taught my mother to do it, and, how my mother taught me to do it:

~ Step 1.  PICT2734To Freeze Chives: Harvest them early in the morning, before the hot sun softens and wilts the leaves.  If you feel compelled to wash them, which I do not usually do or like to do, lightly rinse them under cold water and lay them on a few layers of paper towels to dry.  Chives must be completely free from water in order to freeze them successfully!  

PICT2736~ Step 2.  Slice them very thinly, placing them in a food storage container or a food storage bag as you work.  Place them in the freezer.  Do not thaw them prior to using them!  

~ Step 3.  Add and stir them frozen into all sorts of cooked food, or, sprinkle them, as a garnish, atop your favorite foods and into your favorite salads (they will thaw to the perfect texture almost instantly)!

6a0120a8551282970b015432105488970c-800wiFresh Chives:  The 1st Herb of Our Spring Garden:  Recipe yields instructions for harvesting and freezing chives.

Special Equipment List:  scissors; cutting board; paring knife;  food storage container w/tight fitting lid, or food storage bag

Cook's Note:  To read my recipe for ~ Buttermilk, Blue Cheese 'n Chive Salad Dressing ~ (pictured just above), click into Categories 8 or 10!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2012)


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Yes they are George! Thank-you for the nice comment!

Fresh is best! Those looks gorgeously tasty, too. Yum!

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