Harvest and Storage of Chives

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Harvesting Chives

Chives are onion family plants, perennial cousins of the Lilly, onions and garlic. They are grown primarily for their hollow above ground stalks, which enhance culinary endeavors with a subtle mild and earthy onion flavor.

The bulbous roots are less commonly used and the flowers can be used not only for their aesthetic appeal but as an herb in its own right. They require very little maintenance other than watering and weeding. As they are perennials older chive plants sometimes require some TLC, such as being divided every few years in the spring.

Chives can be harvested in as little as 30 days from transplant or 60 days from seeding. Harvest time is not written in stone and doing this task too early or too late is no disaster. Preferably the stalks should be a half foot tall. First year chives are best harvested modestly, from the 2nd year on you can harvest at will all season long. Responsible harvesting will encourage the plant to keep producing more leaves.

Use scissors to cut chives about 1 to 1 1/2 inches above the ground, leaving enough stalk for the plant to regenerate. Leaves can be harvested as soon as they are large enough to clip and use but have the most oil just before the plants flower, so harvesting them at this point will ensure a better quality. Cut from the outside of the clump, about 1/2 inch above soil level. Harvest from the outside edges of the clumps. After flowering and final seasonal harvest, cut back the entire plant to remove the spent flower stalks.

You can store extra chives for winter use by chopping and freezing the leaves, or preserving them in oils, and vinegar, where they blend well with other spices. Chives can also be frozen, To freeze chives, wash and puree it, adding a modest amount of water as needed to make a thick sauce like puree. Freeze the puree in ice-cube trays than freezer bags for later use as needed. See: Herbal Ice