Mother Earth Living

Herb to Know: Chervil

A Fine Herbe for the Kitchen: This often overlooked herb adds delicate flavor and fragrance to a wide range of dishes.
By Caleb Melchior
February/March 2009
Add to My MSN


Content Tools

Related Content

10 Things I Learned About Herbs in 2010

Every year—every day, in fact—we learn something new. During my time working for The Herb Companion ...

Apartment Gardening with Herbs

For the apartment garden, herbs are the quintessential low-maintenance, high-reward plants to grow.

Why We Use Bamboo for the Natural Home Kitchenware Line

Natural Home chose bamboo for its kitchenware line because it's both sustainable and beautiful.

Garden Giveaway: Grow Chervil, the Sweet Spring Herb

Grow chervil this spring for a mild gourmet flavor.

Anthriscus cerefolium
• Annual

Recipe: Lemon-Butter Sauce with Chervil 

Chervil is an herb for the connoisseur of fine flavors and fragrances. Perhaps because of its family alliance to cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris), an infamous British weed, chervil has never been widely grown in American gardens. In appearance, it resembles flat-leaved parsley, but its leaves are more finely dissected and paler green. Its aroma and taste suggest the flavors of tarragon and fennel, although it’s much less potent than the latter.

Interestingly enough, chervil has almost no recorded history as a medicinal herb. Perhaps because of its delicate scent and flavor, most ancient people seem to have ignored chervil in favor of more potent potions. Chervil is reputed to have a mild stimulating effect (Culpeper, the 19th-century English herbalist, wrote that “it doth moderately warm the stomach”), but its main use is in the kitchen.

Although its role often is usurped by the more widely available French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus), chervil’s unique flavor earns it a place in every gourmet’s kitchen. Along with tarragon, chives and parsley, chervil is a component of fines herbes, a blend indispensable to French cooking. Chervil stars in béarnaise sauce, a variation of hollandaise. Besides these traditional uses, chervil also is an excellent complement to any mild food. Use the chopped leaves to enhance sole and other white fish, chicken, eggs and zucchini, as well as salads, sauces and soups. Its flavor is best fresh; if you plan to use it in cooked dishes, add it near the end of the cooking process.

Chervil in the Kitchen Garden

Chervil is easy to grow from seed, but it requires cool, moist conditions. In hot weather or dry soil, the plants will bolt (flower and set seed) rather than produce lush leaves for harvest.  For that reason, aim to grow chervil during the coolest part of your growing season. Also, a semi-shaded location, such as tucked between other plants, can help shield chervil from the heat of midsummer sun. Chervil prefers a light soil that retains moisture, so be sure to work in plenty of compost.

In Zone 6 and north, plant chervil in early spring for harvest into summer. In Zones 7 and south, plant it in late summer to early fall for harvest throughout winter and spring. Although chervil is quite hardy, it will need some protection—such as a row cover—when temperatures drop below freezing in fall. Or, simply plant chervil directly in a cold frame in the fall for harvest throughout the winter.

Chervil is an intriguing herb. Many do not appreciate its unique scent and taste, but every herbalist and gourmet should grow it at least once. Try chervil this year—you’ll be charmed by its dainty appearance and delicate flavor.

Sources: Chervil seeds are available from most mail-order suppliers of herb seeds and plants.

Caleb Melchior serves as cook and gardener on an estate in Perry County, Missouri. He writes for numerous publications and enjoys testing new and unusual plants.


Previous | 1 | 2 | Next






Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.