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Chives (Allium Schoenoprasum)

A part of the same botanical family as onions, scallions, and garlic, chives grow from small bulbs and have a long history of culinary and medicinal uses. In the middle ages, chives were promoted as a cure for melancholy and believed to drive away evil spirits. Today, we know that chives and chive flowers are high in vitamin C, folic acid and potassium. Therefore, they should be routinely added to recipes to help restore vital nutrients lost in cooking. The herb's tangy, aromatic taste comes from its high concentration of sulphur compounds and other essential oils, which are also partly responsible for its healing properties. Chives ease stomach distress, protect against heart disease and stroke and may help the body fight bacteria that can cause disease. In addition, the herb may increase the body's ability to digest fat.

Don't overlook Chive Flower

The chives's delicate purple flowers have a milder flavour than the leaves and add a decorative touch to salads, herb oils and other dishes. To make chive flower oil, add 1 ½ oz. of the blossoms to 1 qt. of vegetable oil. After a week, the oil will turn lilac and take on the fragrance of the chive flowers. Use the oils on salads or in cooking-keep it refrigerated when not in use.

Therapeutic effect
The medicinal properties of chives are as varied as their uses in the kitchen. Chives stimulate the appetite and promote good digestion. They can be used to ease stomach upset, clear a stuffy nose, reduce flatulence and prevent bad breath. Combined with a low salt diet, they help lower high blood pressure. Plus, they have a mild diuretic effect, as well as some antibacterial properties.

Chives are valued for their many essential minerals, including cardiac friendly potassium, bone strengthening calcium and blood building iron. And unlike most other members of the onion family, chives are high in folic acid (a B vitamin), vitamin a and vitamin C. In fact, just 3 ½ oz. of chives supplies enough vitamin C to meet your daily requirement of 60 mg.

Extra Tip : If you like the oniony flavour of chives, make your own chive salt to add zip to all sorts of dishes. First, add some chives to some salt. Then bake the mixture in the oven to dry the leaves and blend the flavors. Store in an airtight jar.

Cottage Cheese with Chives (Makes 4 servings)

  • 8 oz. cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp. mustard
  • 1 shallot
  • 1 bunch chives
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  1. Blend the cottage cheese and mustard
  2. Peel the shallot, chop finely and mix with the cottage cheese blend.
  3. Wash and dry the chives and snip them finely. Stir about two-thirds of the chives into the cottage cheese mixture.
  4. Season the cottage cheese mixture with the paprika and add salt and pepper to taste. S0prinkle the remaining chives on top.

Cholesterol Reduction
Scientific research shows that chives stimulate the body's digestion of fat. Eaten regularly, chives may help lower blood cholesterol levels

Cold Prevention
The high vitamin C content in chives can help prevent colds. They also speed recovery if a cold develops by helping the body to expel mucus; the sulphurous compounds in chives are natural expectorants

Kitchen Hints

  • Cut chives just before you are ready to use them to preserve their vitamins, aroma and flavour. Chives are delicate; to prevent the loss of essential oils, snip them with kitchen shears rather than chopping or grinding them.
  • Don't heat chives or they will lose their valuable vitamin C as well as their digestive properties.
  • Grow chives at home in a pot on the windowsill. Wait until the plant reaches about 6 inch in height before cutting., Harvest the chive leaves frequently to prevent blooming unless your specifically want to use the flowers. Once the plant blooms, the leaves become much less flavourful.
  • Freeze chives for future use. Frozen chives tend to retain more flavour than dried chives. Snip fresh chives into small pieces, then place them in an ice cube tray and fill it with water. To thaw, put a chive cube in a strainer.