Chives: picking, selecting, storing
24 Oct 2013 10.02 am by Renny Wijeyamohan
Chives are a flavoursome garnish that are part of the onion family. While the bulb of the plant isn’t used – the tasty, green stems are harvested as an addition to soups, pies, quiches and eggs. Chives are a good source of Vitamins A, C, K and B6, dietary fiber, Riboflavin and folate. They’re also a good substitute for those on a salt-reduced diet for health reasons.
Chives are ready to harvest as soon as the stems of the plant reaches around 15 centimetres in height (approx 6 inches). Look for leaves that are a fresh, green colour with a hollow centre.
To harvest chives simply take a sharp cutting tool, grasp the amount of chives that you need and slice about 5 centimetres above the ground (approx 2 inches). This will not harm the plant and will allow the chives to regrow. Take care when harvesting to avoid cutting too low and damaging the bulb.
If you have enough room in your garden, it’s a good idea to have several chive plants growing at the same time. This will allow you to harvest chives from each plant in rotation, giving you an ongoing food source and allowing each plant time to regrow.
If you notice any flower heads or that the plant is budding and about to flower, snip them off. Once the plant blooms, nutrients are routed towards the growing flowers and away from the leafy stems, meaning there will be a loss of texture and flavour in your chives.
Use your eyes and nose when selecting chives to find the best produce. Chives should look fresh, crisp and green with a hollow interior. Avoid wilted, yellowing or brown chives as these are past their prime. Smell chives to before selecting – a fresh chive should have that fresh onion-like smell and shouldn’t smell off.
If you’d like to use fresh chives immediately, harvest them directly from the plant to garnish your meal. Chives will dry out quickly so don’t leave them out for longer than about 24 hours. You can store chives in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Wrap them in paper towel or a damp tea towel to keep them moist before storing them in the chiller section of your refrigerator. Chives can also be frozen. Simply slice them to an appropriate length and place them in a ziplock bag. Frozen chives will stay good for around 6 months.
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