Garlic Chives make a beautiful addition to the flower border. They are also a big hit in the kitchen, adding flavor to vegetables, cheeses and salads. The flavor of garlic chives is a mild garlic instead of the onion of common chives. Garlic chives are a member of the allium family. They are very easy to grow and produce edible leaves all season.
Growing Garlic Chives
Ideal Location for growing Garlic Chives
Garlic Chives prefer a sunny location in a rich, moist, but well-drained soil. They are also quite capable of growing in less than favorable conditions which make them an easy herb to add to the culinary herb garden. Garlic chives are taller than ordinary chives, but form smaller clumps.
Garlic chives sprout easily from seed, after which the plants can easily be propagated by clump division. Space the clumps 9 inches apart and 2 inches deep. It is wise to re-divide one’s garlic chives every few years, to keep the plant healthy and prevent over crowding. Division can be done almost anytime, but is probably best done in the fall or early spring.
Water your chives on a regular schedule, especially during the dry months. Garlic chives thrive in moist soil, but don’t overdo it so the ground becomes waterlogged. Garlic chives will stay green all year in mild climates, but they will go dormant in areas with colder temperatures and harsh winters.
Cooking with Garlic Chives
The garlic chive plant is sometimes called Chinese Chives since they are frequently used in Asian cooking. Many restaurants will add freshly cut garlic chives to stir fry dishes just before serving. Another favorite restaurant dish popular in American culture is garlic chive mashed potatoes.
Pink flowers appear on the common Chives where the Garlic chives have white flowers. They are both edible and can be used to garnish salads.
A favorite use of garlic chives is to add the leaves to flavor butters and cream cheese. Add a bit of garlic chive butter to spruce up steamed vegetables or sprinkle them on your favorite omelette. Include freshly chopped garlic chives to salads, soups and sauces.
Chives also pair very nicely with almost all proteins. They are wonderful when added to seafood such as broiled fish, especially salmon. You can cut them into short lengths and blanch them, then add to pork or poultry dishes. Blanching will soften the flavors. Garlic chives are used in spring rolls or added at the end of cooking to stir-fried beef, shrimp or vegetables.
Harvesting Garlic Chives
Garlic chives need to be harvested often. You can treat them like ordinary chives, pinching off any flower buds that appear, or you can let it flower in the autumn, as the buds and flowers are as edible as the leaves. The leaves are flat shaped rather than tube shaped like regular chives but are cut the same to within 2 inches of soil level.
Preserving Garlic Chives
Garlic Chives can be kept in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic baggie for about a week. For longer storage, chop them and mix with a little water, then freeze in ice cube trays. They can be added to vinegar and oils to bring out the light garlic flavor.
Garlic Chives Uses in Herbal Medicine and Health Benefits
Garlic chives are rich in vitamins and minerals. They are a good source of Vitamin A, K and B complex vitamins. They are also high in calcium, iron and zinc. Garlic Chives have been used in traditional folk medicine to treat intestinal parasites and to boost the immune system. Another common use is to stimulate digestion. The allicin in the chive plant helps to reduce blood pressure and treat anemia.
Popular in Chinese cooking, garlic chives are also referred to as Chinese chives. They are an easy to grow perennial adapting to many soil types and conditions. A welcome addition to the culinary herb garden, they are an easy way to add flavor to many dishes.