Updated: Apr 29, 2022
I was a "good kid" growing up. That's to say for the 70s/80s standard of "good"-- I followed the rules, listened to my parents and teachers, got good grades and dressed like a perfectly proper preppy kid. I don't know why I've always been attracted to that style, but I was (and still am). Penny loafers, cable knit sweaters, turtlenecks, polo shirts, collegiate navy-blue gold button blazers, pleated skirts-- all in my closest still to this day.
I could see myself dining in classic country clubs and eating the freshly prepared omelets at Sunday Brunch-- not much in them for me-- just eggs-- topped with as many chives as I'm allowed-- and then just a pinch more please.
I don't belong to any country clubs; I make my own eggs, scrambled with, you guessed it, tons of chives.
Classic and simple. That's how I dress... and (most of the time) eat.
But underneath that classic conservative dress is a gypsy-- a wild child at heart. I yearn for adventure (and bending the rules). And underneath the finely chopped store bought or cultivated (on my deck) chives, a wild child at heart also.
Wild chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are generally thought of as a garden plant imported from Europe, but there is actually a wild variety native to North America that grows well in USDA plant hardiness zones 3 through 9.
I found these delicious edible wild plants along the stream bed on the property. I pulled a few bulbs but mostly just cut the greens off to allow regrowth next year. And the flowers are edible. When they bloom I’ll be sure to pick a few as well.
The wild chive is easy to identify if you’ve ever seen a domestic chive. They look like a clump of grass as they grow except that the leaf blades are not flat like grass but rather cylindrical and hollow.
Wild chives will be one of the first plants to appear in the spring and easily stand out amongst the dormant grass. Wild chives grow between 10-20 inches in height. The aroma is lightly oniony, and while there are other plants that look similar, the poisonous mountain death-camas, for example, they lack the distinctive aroma.
Next up: Ramps and Morel Mushrooms. It’s that time of year! Stay Tuned
Cooking Class with Carol
Things to Consider
Not everyone can find wild chives. That's ok...just get the variety at your local farmer's market or grocery store. I'd steer clear of the dried chives though; they have barely any flavor.
The smaller you can find the chives, the more tender they will be. Foraging and harvesting early is key to a very flavorful and tender chive.
When in doubt, don't eat it. If you are not 100% certain a wild chive, or anything foraged for is what you think it is, it's best to not risk it. Gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms can leave you debilitated for days, or worse, dead.
Sauteed Wild Chives on Grilled Bread
• I purchased a crusty bread from local grocery store. Slice on diagonal for more surface area.
• I washed and dried the wild chives.
• I finely chopped them and added them to a sauté heated over medium heat with EVOO.
•Sauté for 2-5 minutes stirring so the chives do not burn.
•meanwhile, heat a grill pan until smoking. •drizzle EVOO on sliced bread and grill 2-3 minutes on each side.
•Top the grilled bread with wild chive, a pinch of finishing salt and your favorite EVOO.