Chives are the smallest members of the onion family, and have been grown in British gardens since Elizabethan times. They were grown because they are herbs, and they have flowers, but not only are they attractive and good to eat; they also ward off unwanted insects. They are good to grow in your garden as they can be cut three or four times in a season, and can be saved for winter by chopping and freezing them.
Chives are native to the northern hemisphere and still grow wild in parts of Italy and Greece. They have been cultivated in Europe only since the 1500s. The first recorded use of chives comes from China, and where they were used 5000 years ago.
There are also ‘garlic chives’ or Chinese chives, which have star-shaped white flowers. The chive normally used in cookery has purple pom-pom flowers, something like those of a clover.
The Romans believed that they could cure sore throats and relieve sunburn. The ancient Greeks used them in baths, and in Mediaeval Europe it was thought that hanging a bunch of chives in the house would ward off evil and disease. They have been used in love potions, and in fortune telling, according to some. It is said that gypsies used them to tell fortunes but exactly how they did this has not been reported.
Their medical uses are still under investigation, but preliminary research has suggested that they might help to fight several types of cancer, and have mild antibiotic properties. They have anti-inflammatory properties, so the Romans may not have been wrong to use them as they did.
Chives are rich in vitamins A and C and contain the minerals potassium, calcium and folic acid. They are said to aid digestion and stimulate appetite. Oil from chives is rich in sulphur, as are other members of the onion family.
In cooking they can be used in soups, stews and sauces; as a garnish and in salad dressings. They are one of the ‘fines herbes’of French cuisine, along with tarragon, parsley and chervil. Chives can be added to scrambled eggs to give them a more interesting flavour and make good additions to dips. You can add them to boiled or mashed potatoes, or use them to garnish potato salads. Below is a dip using chives.

500 gr cream cheese
½ cup of fresh, chopped chives
1 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

Mash together the oil, cream cheese and pepper, and mix until smooth, then add the chives and mix thoroughly. Put in the fridge until required.
This has Taste and is a Treat.

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