Coming from the same family as onions and scallions, fine grassy-looking chives are known for their delicate oniony flavor that is a delicious addition to scrambled eggs, baked potatoes, pureed soups, and tossed salads.
Chives have also been determined to contain essential therapeutic components, such as potassium, sulfur, calcium and iron, as well as vitamins A, B, and C. Chives sprinkled on dishes just before they are served helps restore nutrients that are lost in cooking. And because of the numerous minerals and vitamins present in this herb, it is often used to stimulate the appetite, lower blood cholesterol levels, and help prevent colds.
Many households now grow chives in their kitchen gardens because this garnishing is best when freshly harvested. You can grow chives in pots on the windowsill. Snip leaves after they are about 6 inches tall, and frequently to prevent flowering — once the plant flowers, the leaves become less flavorful.
Harvest chives just before using them in your dishes. Use shears to snip them into small pieces instead of chopping or grinding — snipping will help retain their flavor and aroma.
Chives lose their taste when dried, so if you want to preserve some for later use, you can freeze them whole in freezer bags or snip and freeze them in ice cubes. Chives in ice cubes can be thawed in a strainer or dropped directly onto soups and dishes.
If you prefer to let chives bloom, the mildly fragrant fresh flowers can also be used to garnish salads and other dishes. The delicate purple flowers of chives can also be prepared into chive-flower oil: add a quart of vegetable oil to about 2 ounces of chive blossoms and let it stand for a week. The oniony chive-flower oil can be added to salads and as seasoning for various dishes.