The popular culinary herb chives belongs botanically to the leek family, Latin Allium. This plant family includes more than 300 different species and is widespread across the globe.
Varieties differ in the thickness of the culms
Within the leek family, there are a number of chive varieties that differ from each other primarily in the thickness of their stalks. Other differences also appear in the taste, which can be rather mild, but also sharper. By the way, chives are only chives if the plant is labeled with its botanical name “Allium schoenoprasum” – pay attention to this when buying, because the different species of the leek family are often confusingly similar. By the way, there are not only pink-purple flowering varieties of chives, but also bright pink or even white flowering.
- “Forescate” has bright, vivid pink and particularly large flowers. The culms are long and quite coarse.
- “Elbe” is a very hardy white flowering variety.
- “Grolau” is a Swiss variety with wide and very aromatic culms.
- “Profusion” is sterile, that is, does not develop seeds. The delicate flowers are wonderful for eating.
- “Miro” is a very fine-tubed variety with a rather mild aroma. Perfect for freezing.
- “Staro” is more coarse-tubed and bred primarily for fresh consumption. However, this variety is good for pickling in salt.
- “Middleman” is also rather coarse-grained.
Other delicious leeks
But the large Allium family still has a variety of wonderful flavors to offer. Do you like the aroma of garlic? Allium sativum, as it is called in botanical terminology, has a distinctive flavor that is indispensable in both Mediterranean and Asian cuisine. However, its consumption is not without consequences, which is why some people do without it. But you can enjoy the typical garlic taste without fearing the subsequent strong smell:
- Cut garlic (e.g., “Wagner’s Goblin”) is the solution. The annual herb is grown in the same way as chives. Here, too, the stalks are harvested and processed.
- Wild garlic, also known as wild garlic or Allium ursinum, is also an excellent alternative to garlic.
Tips & Tricks
You’re probably familiar with onions, garlic and leeks – but have you ever tried Japanese chives (Allium ledebourianum)? This variety is sometimes called Altai chives and looks confusingly similar to our chives. This very fine-tubed variety is originally used for sushi and other Japanese delicacies