How To Harvest Chives Correctly

Chives have an aromatic, leek-like flavor – no wonder, since the kitchen herb belongs to the same plant family as onions, leeks & Co. – and also contains many vitamins. The tender stalks of the allium are usually used fresh and raw, but you can also freeze them or preserve them in other ways.

Schnittlauch ernten

Timing and tools

In principle, the stalks of chives can be harvested throughout the year. Depending on the variety, there are chives with fine, tender as well as with thicker shoots. The different varieties of chives also differ in terms of taste. It is best to harvest the stalks early in the morning, because at this time they contain their highest concentration of essential oils and thus have a particularly high aroma. For cutting, you can use a sharp and clean knife or scissors – the only important thing is not to squeeze or unnecessarily injure the shoots.

Cut properly

Cut the stems about two to three inches above the ground, this will make it easier for the plant to re-form fresh shoots. However, some shoots have split several inches above the ground and have effectively doubled in size. If possible, cut these double shoots above the split so that the two shoots remain intact and can continue to grow. Also, when harvesting, make sure not to cut the shoots indiscriminately, but instead systematically thin out the plant – the more light and air the individual stalks have, the better the whole plant will thrive. You should use the harvested chives immediately if possible or freeze them fresh. If this is not possible, place the whole stalks in a jar of water – this way the chives will keep for a few more days.

Can you use flowering chives?

Flowering chives stalks are hard, taste very bitter and are therefore inedible. For this reason, many people cut off emerging flower stalks as soon as possible, so that they do not reach maturity. You can prevent chives from flowering by harvesting them regularly – but to do this, you should regularly cut all stalks to within three inches of the ground.

Flowers and buds are edible
However, this is actually not necessary, because both the striking flowers and the still tightly closed buds of the chives are edible. The buds can be made into fake capers by pickling them in vinegar and salt. The flowers are wonderful for decorating soups and salads, but otherwise can be used just like the shoots of chives. They have a strong, quite pungent aroma, but at the same time – due to the high nectar content – quite sweet. You can wait for the flowering period, harvest flowers and buds and then cut the stalks down vigorously.

Tips & tricks
You can easily propagate garden cut leeks that have been planted out: Just let the plant bloom and wait for it to form its seed heads. Most of the time, chives will sow all by themselves, you don’t have to do anything for it.

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