Chives, with the botanical name Allium schoenoprasum, is an aromatic plant used as a condiment like its relatives in the allium family, the garlic, onion, and shallot. It comes in the form of very fine green leaves, and is included among the soft herbs known as fines herbes. The plant grows as long, thin, hollow, and fleshy leaves some 15–30 cm in length, which produce pretty little pink flowers in spring. Chives have a delicate flavor similar to that of shallots and onions. In France the plant is known as ciboulette, or « civette » in certain regions.
Chives are harvested April through November, but they are grown in greenhouses throughout the year. Chives must always be very fresh with firm green stems (stalks), and no yellowing. They are found fresh in small bunches held with a rubber band, but also chopped and frozen, dried, or freeze-dried.
Chives are included among the soft herbs known as fines herbes. They are mainly used raw and chopped in salads and as crudités. They are an integral part of the cervelle de canut. They can be a last-minute addition to vegetable dishes, sauces, and omelets, among others.
Fresh chives can be kept in the refrigerator for two or three days wrapped in paper towels or a damp cloth.
Like all the members of the allium family, chives are high in antioxidants (vitamin C, flavonoids, etc.), minerals, and in the B-group vitamins.