How many types of onions are you aware of? Purple onions, yellow onions, sweet Vidalia onions, pearl onions, scallions, leeks, and the list goes on! There are several other types of onions available to choose from! You just need to pick the right one for your particular recipe. Did you know that chives belong to the onion family? Surprised? Aren't you? Let us read more about chives, the smallest species of the onion family and also about chives substitute.
☸ Native to Europe, Asia, and North America, chives belong to the onion family Alliaceae. Their botanical name is Allium schoenoprasum, which means reed-like leek.
☸ They are also known by common names, like civa, cepa, schnittlauch, cebolleta, and erba cipollina. They grow in clusters like grass and have slender, hollow leaves that grow up to 6 to 20 inches long.
☸ Chives are actually a herb and do not form large bulbs underground. The thin long leaves are a source of the subtle onion flavor.
☸ They have pretty, clover-like light purple colored flowers that are usually seen from April to May or June. They are available all through the year and can be a great addition to your indoor herb garden.
Manifold Uses of Chives
☛ Chives are known for their flavor and used in a lot of recipes. The shoots, leaves, and flowers possess a mild onion flavor.
☛ The taste and flavor of chives is due to the presence of a volatile oil, rich in sulfur, that is common in all the members of the onion family.
☛ The leaves are snipped and are used fresh as condiments for fish, potatoes, or soups. They are also used to garnish pizzas, sauces, eggs, and salads.
☛ Chives lose their flavor upon cooking hence are primarily used raw or added to the dish in the last few minutes of cooking.
☛ Many people grow chives in their kitchen gardens and use them fresh all through the year. Fresh chives are also available in the markets or you can purchase dry, frozen ones from the grocery stores.
☛ Although they do not dry well, chives can be chopped and frozen, and they tend to last for about two weeks. Storing them in a refrigerator in a plastic bag retains their flavor.
☛ They also possess some medicinal properties similar to garlic and onions. They contain numerous organosulfur compounds, like allyl sulfides and alkyl sulfoxides that have beneficial effects on the circulatory system.
☛ Chives are a good source of vitamins A and C and minerals, like calcium and iron. However, their medicinal properties are milder than that of garlic, hence they are not commonly used as a medicinal herb.
What are the Substitutes for Chives?
Chives are used to enhance the flavor of several foods. They have a taste of their own hence are hard to substitute. However, you can opt for substitutes that impart a similar taste. There are several fresh and dried substitutes available.
Substitute fresh minced or chopped chives with chopped onion tops. You could also use chopped tops of scallions as a fresh substitute. Dice them and soak in ice water for some time. This helps in removing the strong flavor they possess. If you want a mild or subtle flavor, then you could go for chopped Chinese garlic stems or leeks. Chinese garlic stems possess a garlic flavor and are really crunchy, hence these are the most preferred substitutes for chives.
So, the next time your recipe calls for chives and you can't find them, don't be disappointed. Use one of the above substitutes and cook a tasty delight!