The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Growing good tasting chives

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gcook17's picture
gcook17

Growing good tasting chives

I made the potato-cheese-chive bread from BBA last year and I was amazed at how good it was.  I was also amazed at how expensive chives are.  I always thought chives and green onions were interchangable but the chives I bought for the bread were really something else.  This year I planted plenty of chives in the garden and made the first loaf yesterday.  It looks and tastes good but it's missing the big chive taste I remember from last year's loaves.  Does anyone know anything about growing good tasting chives?  Is it too early in the year?  It never gets very hot in the part of the San Francisco Bay Area where I live--do they need a hotter climate to develop a strong flavor?  Any ideas???



-greg

xaipete's picture
xaipete

I live in Santa Rosa and planted some chives about 5 years ago in a large bucket. They come back every year. I cut them off at the base a couple of weeks ago and they have already grown back and are ready for use.


--Pamela 

gcook17's picture
gcook17

Do you chop them completely off at the base so the plants don't have any "leaves" left or do you leave a few green parts still sticking up ?

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Pretty much at the base. Once established, I think they are hard to get rid of.


--Pamela

davidg618's picture
davidg618

http://www.indepthinfo.com/chives/cultivate.shtml.


Another site recommends fertilizing at planting with bone meal. This probably will contribute to stronger flavor.


David G

LindyD's picture
LindyD

If you're going to handle bone meal, use a respirator and gloves as it was identified as a vector in BSE (mad cow disease).  There are better organic sources than bone meal.


Phosphorus (P) aids in the development of plant roots. I don't think it will have much effect on taste.


The best scenario is to run a soil test to determine if you even need to fertilize your plants.   If the plants can't use the nutrients, the nutrients will leach into the water table.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and compost, I have two varieties.  Cut clives loose their aroma quickly.  Cut and wash just before use. The Chinese flat leaf variety is bigger, holds flavor longer and is used for pickling and kimchee, I find it freezes better too. 


The round common chive is also a small bulb and some say one should pluck the leaves and not cut.  I cut mine about an inch over the bulb.  If they threaten to bloom, I level the works and let them come back.  There are always a few that manage to bloom and have seeds (and die when the seeds are ripe.)  The "bushes" do well if their location changes every few years and clumps are divided.   I keep several clumps near to the kitchen door in a sunny location.  They are one of the first herbs from the garden in the spring.  They usually come up big, fat and juicy after their winter rest. 


Mini

clydiemor's picture
clydiemor

Growing Chives is relatively easy.  I live in the northeast (Long Island)


They come up in the spring, and you can start using them when they are a couple of inches-usually people let them grow a few inches and then start cutting them to use or freeze. They regrow as fast as you cut them.


They grow in just about any dirt, they are perennial so they come up every year.


They get cute purple flowers (garlic chives are flat leaved and have white flowers, later then the onion ones)


One caution..unless you want the chives all over your property and maybe your neighbors, cut the flowers off before they go to seed..you can use the flowers in salad and you can even use the seeds...(both taste onion-y..or garlic-y depending on what you have)


I let them flower and watch them closely as I use them, cutting them before they go to seed.


Generally speaking they become a little tougher after they flower (some people say bitter too), and in the heat, so it is best to use and preserve some before they flower..this year..however, we have had a prolonged spring with cool and wet weather..so I am still picking and using mine even though by now, normally, I would not be.


Dividing is a good idea every couple of years.


Janie


 


 

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Yeap, they grow like weeds, which is why mine are in a bucket.


--Pamela

the_panhandler's picture
the_panhandler

Greg, your plants are just too young if you set them out this year. Next year they will be more flavorful. Cutting them in the morning also imparts a stronger flavor and use them ASAP.

gcook17's picture
gcook17

This was really helpful.  Thank you for all the advice.  I plan on eating a lot of these this summer and having more and even better ones next year.


-greg

ChadCroft's picture
ChadCroft

The bread sounds great but where can I get the recipe?  As for the chives I agree that the Chinese chives are stronger in flavor and perhaps even a little hardier.  I also grow West Virginia ramps, a wild onion whch has a very delicate flavor and wonderful in omelets.  Without trying ut in a recipe I can't say whether they would work well for this bread.  I have grown both of them for many years and they have persisted very well in Western Pennsylvania winters in the foothills of the Laurel mountains.  If anyone can help me get the recipe for the bread I would sure appreciate it.