A Short Guide to Chives

person holding bunch of chives

The Spruce / Steven Merkel 

Chives are one of the most well-known herbs, but often one of the least used. Everyone seems to know someone else who grows chives but other than snipping onto baked potatoes, Chives never seem to get used to their total potential.

Chives are a wonderful addition to the beginner's garden. They impart a light onion flavor in any dish and can be used interchangeably in recipes calling for onions. There is even a variety of chives that tastes like a blend of onion and garlic. Chives keep their lovely green color when cooked so they make a fancy addition to butter for an aromatic blended topping for corn on the cob, pasta dishes, corned beef or garlic bread.

How to Grow Chives

Chives are easy to grow. They require full sun and will benefit from rich, moist soils. Keeping your chive plant snipped back will cut down on the dried, yellow stems from overtaking the entire clump. These are simply the chive leaves that have finished their growing cycle. Cutting them back will create a new batch of bright green leaves. If you continue to cut the blossom heads from your chive plant, the flowers will keep coming and you will have a special ingredient for the following culinary delight. Chives need to be divided every two to three years. You simply dig up the entire clump of chives in early spring, chop it into two or three pieces with a shovel and replant each one separately. This ensures a fresh start for more chives.

person trimming chives with clippers
The Spruce / Steven Merkel 
hand holding a bunch of freshly harvested chives
The Spruce / Steven Merkel  
purple blossom on chives
The Spruce / K. Dave
chopping up chives for culinary use on table
The Spruce / Steven Merkel  

How to Use Chive Blossoms

Chives have a stunning purple blossom that offers a culinary treat that will become a fantastic treat for any food lover. Fill a one-quart jar about 1/2 full of white vinegar. Start snipping and submerging the blossoms as they open. If you continue to snip and remove all the blossoms, this will force the plant to keep making flowers. Once the jar is full with vinegar covering the blossoms, cover and let steep in a dark cupboard for at least two weeks. The blossoms will fade to white and the vinegar will become a shockingly pink color.

How to Store Chives

Chives are easy to grow and abundant. To store them for winter use, you must not dry them. The taste fades rapidly. The proper way to keep chives tasting fresh all year long is to freeze them. I have frozen them in long stems and snipped them into the foods as needed or you can snip them before freezing in a freezer proof bag.

Chives also grow very well on a windowsill. If you would like to try growing herbs inside and do not think you have enough light, try chives at first. They will grow almost anywhere as long as they don't get too dry.