The culinary garden: garlic chives

Garlic chives are highly prized in Chinese cuisine, and it is known as “Chinese chives”, it is actually a different species from the common garlic we know, and its Latin botanical name is Allium tuberosum.

The garlic chive is a small perennial plant of 50-70cm, with narrow and flat leaves, unlike the common chive, which is cylindrical and hollow. The whole plant emits a fine aroma of onions. The Chinese collect the flowering stems before the flowers open, making bouquets for sale in markets. Western Chefs use the leaves, which grow all year round. Chinese cuisine uses the whole flower and stem, cut before the flowers open and accompany many dishes prepared in a wok. Once the flowers open the stem becomes more fibrous. The small bulbs are also edible. Western chefs prefer to use the leaves, while the flowers are mainly used to decorate. Blossoms late summer / early autumn.

Garlic chives can be grown from seed and planted out into light, medium or heavy soil that is well drained in a sunny place. It will adapt to cool and arid areas, will survive short droughts and alkaline soils. The tuberous Garlic is used in Chinese medicine as an antibacterial, and for treating cardiac, digestive, stomach, problems. It also has repellent properties: the juice of the plant is used to repel moths, while the whole plant repels insects and moles.

François-Luc Gauthier, aromaticultor.

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