Another favourite of the Romans, chervil’s use in the kitchen dates back to 15th century manuscripts. Chervil is a hardy annual plant that grows up to 60cm tall and displays small white flowers and has pale green leaves ; it is a fern-like plant, resembling parsley, like parsley, there are both flat and curly-leaved varieties available. The plant is native to the Middle East and southern Russia, the Caucasus and possibly the Middle East. The plant is widely cultivated world-wide.
The aroma resembles tarragon and fennel, although not as strong, it also has the scent of ‘myrrh’; It was once called ‘myrrhis’ because the volatile oil extracted from chervil leaves of which bears a similar aroma to the biblical resinous substance ‘myrrh’. The leaves of chervil possess a gentle fragrant essence that reminds one of aniseed with a suggestion of pepper.
Chervil’s unique flavour earns it a place in every gourmet’s kitchen. Many do not appreciate its unique scent and taste. Its taste is perhaps best described as a more delicate version of a cross between tarragon and parsley with just a tiny back-note hint of a bite of anise or mint, without either of those flavors really coming through at all.It is important to note that chervil leaves ought to be employed fresh all the time, since the subtle taste is unable to endure drying or cooking for a long period.
Chervil is nutritious
Chervil is also a rich source of bioflavonoids, which aid the body in many ways, including Vitamin C absorption, contains high amount of calcium and is an excellent natural source of this mineral.
Health benefits of chervil
- While chervil was never employed extensively in the form of a remedial herb, it was definitely employed in folk herbal medicine in theform of a common stimulant or tonic and an expectorant.
- In addition, this herb was also used to cure eczema, lower blood sugar, alleviate stomach disorders and known to be valuable in the treatment of poor memory as well as mental depression.
- Chervil made into a tea and then ingested helps to reduce blood pressure. The active constituents of Chervil include its volatile oil, which has a smell similar to Myrrh.
- As with most herbs, chervil is an aid for digestion; when brewed as a tea.
- It can be used as a soothing eye wash to cure tender or inflamed eyes; pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tblsp fresh chopped chervil and let this steep for 20 minutes. (Be sure to cover this to keep in all the volatile oils.) When cool, moisten a cotton ball with some of the mixture and place over closed eyes for 10 minutes.
- Prepared like a tea, a tincture or an extract. The fresh chervil plants may also be employed in the form of poultices.
- The juice extracted from the herb is used to treat arthritis, dropsy (edema) and even persistent skin problems, promotes healing.
Buying and storing chervil
Culinary herb used much like parsley. Fresh chervil is sometimes available from greengrocers. Despite its fragile appearance, it keeps well. Kept in a zip lock bag, chervil will last up to a week in the refrigerator. Dried chervil should be dark-green and show no signs of yellowing due to exposure to light. Store in airtight packs and keep in a cool, dark place.Chervil seeds are available from most mail-order suppliers of herb seeds and plants; start growing it too…
It is advisable to collect the leaves of chervil immediately before you use them for they wither very rapidly and it is quite difficult to store them. Chop the leaves finely while they are fresh and freeze them. Prior to freezing them, put the tender leaves in some water in ice cube trays.
Ideas for cooking with chervil
- Chervil is one of the delicate herbs used extensively in French cooking.
- Chervil is particularly delicious with eggs—either added to an omelette or sprinkled on scrambled eggs. It can also bring a fresh kick when added to lightly dressed salads.
- Chervil pairs well with eggs, fish, asparagus, potatoes, light sauces and vinegar based-sauces. Process fresh chervil with garlic, pecorino, toasted pine nuts and olive oil into pesto and toss with hot pasta.
- 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 flavour is best fresh; if you plan to use it in cooked dishes, add it near the end of the cooking process.
- Frequently, chervil is employed to strengthen the essence of other herbs and it is incorporated in the classic French fines herbes, together with herbs like chives, parsley and tarragon.
- The flowers of chervil are employed in the form of a seasoning.