Tips Of The Month-Feb 2008

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.

The 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.

This herb’s tangy , aromatic taste comes from its high concentration of sulfur 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.

The chive’s delicate purple flowers have a milder flavor 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 quart of vegetable oil.After a week,the oil will turn lilac and take on the fragrance of the chive flowers.Use the oil on salads or in cooking – keep it refrigerated when not in use.

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 airtight jar.

More Hints:
●Cut chives just before you are ready to use them to preserve their vitamins ,,aroma and flavor.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 6in in height before cutting.Harvest the chive leaves frequently to prevent blooming unless you specifically want to use the flowers.Onc ethe plant blooms, the leaves become much less flavourful.

●Freeze chives for future use. Frozen chives tend to remain more flavor than dried chives. Snip fresh chives into small pieces, then place them in an ice cube tray fill it with water. To,thaw, put a chive cube in a strainer.