10 Uses for Chives
The Beautiful Chive
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are among the world’s most versatile and prolific herb plants. Native to India and China and dispersed through centuries throughout the world, they are beautiful, hardy, tasty, good for your health, and very easy to grow.
Chive plants ask for so little while they give so much, to the point of taking over your garden with their quick-growing seedlings if you let them. Chives are so versatile that they can be inspiration for countless projects and money-making, money-saving adventures.
Here are 10 inspiring ideas for using chive plants.
1. Create a Stunning Outdoor Garden Display
Chives hold ornamental interest throughout their growing season, spring through fall. In the late spring, the plants are loaded with delicate pale to deep lavender-colored flowers. If you harvest the chive plants after their first bloom by cutting all or part of each plant back to within one-half inch of the soil surface, the plant will grow new foliage, and flowers as well, although in lesser profusion, throughout the summer.
2. Use Chive Plants To Control Soil Erosion
Plant chives in rock gardens or on hills to minimize soil erosion. Barring a flood or mudslide, the mature chive plant’s dense root mass will anchor your slope in place. Since chive plants reseed so easily, you need not interfere with their reproductive process unless they are too prolific and start choking each other off, in which case you want to thin them out.
Bees Can't Resist Chive Flowers
3. Use Chive as a Pest Repellent and Bee Attraction
Grow chives as companion plants in your vegetable and rose gardens to encourage bees and healthy plant growth and to discourage pests and diseases. Chives planted close to carrots encourage bigger carrots. Chives planted among roses discourage black spot and aphids. To control downy and powdery mildew, make a chive tea by boiling freshly chopped chive leaves in water. Cool the tea and spray on flower and vegetable plants susceptible to mildew infestations.
4. Flavor Foods with Chive Greens
Use chive greens to flavor salads, egg dishes, baked potatoes, fish, soups, and more.
Chive leaves add a mild fresh onion taste and also enhance the natural flavors of the food to which they are added. You can also add fresh chive to softened cream cheese or butter for a delightful bread or bagel spread.
Chop the long, slender chive greens with a knife or snip with scissors.
When adding chives to hot foods, add them immediately before serving so that they remain fresh and green and retain their subtle flavor.
The Spicy Chive Flower
5. Eat the Chive Flowers
The beautiful lavender chive flower is edible. Add young chive flowers (ones which have not yet set seeds), whole or separated into individual florets, to a fresh green salad for a pleasant, quite spicy-hot flavoring.
You can also add young chive flowers to plain white vinegar. The resulting concoction will be rosy in color and tantalizingly flavored.
If you love deviled eggs as I do, try this wonderful spicy, dicey, chivey deviled egg recipe from the Chestnut School of Herbal Medicine.
6. Store Chives for Winter Feasting
Although chives can be dried for storage, they lose much of their delicate savory nature in the process. Instead of drying chives and storing them in jars (or buying expensive dried chive in the grocery store), snip or chop the chive leaves, spread them in a single layer on a flat baking sheet and put them uncovered in the freezer. When frozen and brittle, pour them into plastic freezer bags, removing as much air as possible, and seal tightly. Packaged this way, frozen chives will last in the freezer throughout the cold winter. When you want to use them, just pour out the amount you want from the freezer bag, let them thaw a bit, and then add them to foods as you would freshly picked chives.
7. Jazz Up Refreshing Summer Drinks
In the spring, when the chive flowers are at their most beautiful and abundant, freeze whole chive flowers into individual ice cubes for a beautiful addition to a cold summer drink. Think about adding these sensational ice cubes to a drink like Cranberry Rosé, or to a tall glass of sparkling water.
Chive, an Ideal Addition to a Spring Flower Arrangement
8. Add Chive Flowers to Flower Arrangements
The sturdy, hollow stem supporting the chive flower retains its rigor when cut and placed in water. Chive flowers add a soothing pastel color and a light and airy feel to spring-time flower arrangements.
9. Gift with Chives
Grow chives from your own harvested seed in pots to give as gifts. Chive flowers produce enormous amounts of seed which can be easily shaken out of their drying petals. The seeds sprout easily when they are planted in a moist growing medium and set on a sunny windowsill. I don’t know any cook who wouldn’t welcome such a gift, nor any chive grower who wouldn’t be pleased to save money with this adventure.
10. Sell Your Surplus Chives
Once chive plants are thriving in your gardens and ornamental borders, you will have more chive than you can use.
Make a few phone calls or visits to local restaurants or markets to see if they are interested in purchasing your surplus. You might be surprised at the enthusiastic reception you receive.
Now there’s an idea you can use to make money!