Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Garlic Chives

There is a lot to love about garlic chives (Allium tuberosum).  It is an herb garden perennial that can be used in cooking and crafting and it makes a pretty ornamental as well, starting bloom at the end of summer and continuing for several weeks.

As the white blooms give way to enlarged green seedpods, the whole flower begins to look pale green in the garden.  I love this color with the purple coneflowers and  Amber carpet rose I have growing next to it in my garden.

The flowers are lightly scented;  some accounts liken the smell to violets or roses.  To me they smell like garlic at every stage, no matter how much imagination I apply.  Insects seem to like the umbels;  butterflies, beetles, bees, flies all like this type of relatively flat, densely flowered inflorescence.

The one drawback to growing  garlic chives is that it is vigorous and aggressively reseeds if you leave the seed heads on the plant.  So here's what to do:  Cut them off just before they release the seeds (as they are beginning to turn brown) and store them in a paper bag until they dry completely.  They will release their black seeds into the bag and then you can use the dried seed heads in arrangements.  Of course you can plant the seeds next spring in the garden, or how about in a pot for your windowsill this winter?

Cooking with garlic chives is simple -- you use them in much the same way as green onions (Allium fistulosum) or regular chives (Allium shoenoprasum).  Just chop the flattened blades and add them to egg dishes, stir fries, soups, sauces and salads.

I find them more piquant than regular chives and use them more sparingly.  Try making flavored butter by adding about a teaspoon to a softened stick of butter.  Wrapped in waxed paper and stored in a plastic bag in the freezer, it will keep for months.  This butter is great on baked potatoes or mixed into egg noodles or rice.

Garlic chives are a staple in Chinese, Thai and Korean cuisines.  You can buy bunches of it at Asian markets if you don't have it in your garden.  The following recipes will inspire you to try some soon!

Garlic Chives with Pork (Cang Ying Tou)
Chinese Chicken Noodle Soup with Spinach and Garlic Chives
Authentic Pad Thai
Garlic Chive Pesto
Orecchiette with Fresh Mozzarella, Grape Tomatoes and Garlic Chives

The Herb Society of America New Encyclopedia of Herbs and Their Uses by Demi Brown, 2001
Southern Herb Growing by Madeline Hill and Gwen Barklay with Jean Hardy, 1987
Rodale's Illustrated Encylopedia of Herbs edited by Claire Kowalchik and William H. Hylton, 1987

You can help support the Herb Society of America by purchasing these books (or any others you like) through the link below.
HSA Amazon Item Search Page


  1. Yum! I just purchased a pack of these. Garlic and chives - what's not to love?

  2. smedette, would love to hear what you have in mind to make with them. i agree, garlic/chive/onion...all good.

  3. Aren't the flowers on garlic chives beautiful. I posted them on my blog recently. I should have borrowed a photo from you. Your photography is much better. :)

  4. Beautiful photos of the garlic bloom. I have not grown garlic chives....not sure why?