Chervil, also known as garden chervil, is a delicate leafy herb with a flavor reminiscent of anise. It adds a mild peppery note to dishes.
Use chervil to season poultry, seafood, veal, omelets, soups, salads, and sauces. Chervil loses its flavor when dried or heated, so it should be added at the end of cooking or sprinkled on food in its fresh, raw state. The classic French fines herbes is a delicate blend of fresh parsley, tarragon, chives, and chervil. To make your own, chop equal parts of the herbs with a sharp knife and add them at the last minute to salads, omelets, and soups. Adding them just before serving allows the fines herbes to release their essential oils while retaining a wonderful freshness.1
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Purchase fresh chervil from farmers markets or the produce section of some supermarkets. It can have plain or curly leaves and should not show signs of bolting (seed heads forming). It can be challenging to find a source for fresh chervil, so you may want to grow your own indoors from seed.
Chervil is native to the Caucasus area, the Middle East, and Southern Europe where it can still be found growing wild.
Store fresh chervil in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. Sprigs of fresh chervil placed in a jar with a small amount of water will stay fresh in the refrigerator for several days. You can also mince fresh chervil and freeze it for later use.
The active constituents of chervil include volatile oils at 0.03% of volume in the fresh herb.
The leaves and stems contain high amounts of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber including vitamin C, carotene, iron, and magnesium. Chervil is also a rich source of bioflavonoids, which aid the body in many ways, including Vitamin C absorption.
Volatile oils in the plant include methyl-eugenol (1-allyl-2,4-dimethoxybenzene). Eugenol, commonly known as oil of cloves, is often applied to the gums to relieve dental pain and is widely used by dentists because it is antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
The fruit is oblong, about 1 cm long, and shiny black with a slender, ridged beak. It contains about 30 times more volatile oils than the leaves and stems. The fruit also contains approximately 13 % fatty oil including petroselinic acid, a naturally-occurring fatty acid.
Chervil stimulates the appetite and has purifying and diuretic properties. This herb has been used as a diuretic since at least 1536.
According to German Wikipedia, mothers who are nursing should be careful with their intake of chervil as there are indications that eating this herb can lead to a decrease in milk production.2
According to Wikipedia, chervil and other plants in the family Apiaceae have been implicated in "strimmer dermatitis," another name for phytophotodermatitis, caused by spray from weed trimmers and similar forms of contact.1
Herbalists have used chervil for various medicinal purposes throughout history. Chervil teas and infusions are used as a diuretic, expectorant, and digestive aid. It is also thought to relieve symptoms of eczema, gout, kidney stones, and pleurisy.
The most persistently recognized medicinal use of chervil is as a way to lower high blood pressure, but no clinical studies support this.
The tender young leaves of chervil have been used in spring tonics for thousands of years, dating back to the ancient Greeks. A combination of chervil, dandelion, and watercress is used to relieve vitamin and mineral deficiencies brought on by the lack of fresh greens during the winter months.1
Chervil is used in traditional medicine to cure colds, treat wounds, relieve headaches, and to reduce symptoms of stress. When made into a tea it is said to be useful as a digestive aid and for lowering high blood pressure. Cooled chervil tea is also used as a refreshing and soothing eyewash.
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium), is an annual herb with flavorful, anise-scented leaves. Fresh chervil is added to savory dishes just before serving and is used in the classic French herb mixture fines herbes.
The plant contains volatile oils that are beneficial to health and are used in various therapeutic applications.
Chervil is a cool-season crop and is planted in early spring and late fall. Regular harvesting of leaves encourages chervil to produce additional growing. If you grow chervil in your garden, allow a few flower heads to set seed, and it will replenish itself year after year. Because it thrives even in the shade, chervil is a good choice for an indoor windowsill garden.
Chervil grows to a height of 12 to 24 inches (300 to 610 mm), and a width of 6 to 12 inches (150 to 300 mm).1
In the wild, garden chervil can be easily confused with wild chervil which is also edible. Chervil can be mistaken for several similar-looking poisonous plants, among them poison hemlock and fool's parsley. If you gather chervil in the wild, you should take a field guide with you to reduce the chance of eating poisonous plants.
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium), related to parsley, is a delicate annual herb of the Umbelliferae family, plants whose flower heads grow in umbrella-shaped masses. More delicate and fern-like than parsley, the flavor is similar to that of parsley with a hint of anise. The flavor of the leaves, subtle to begin with, fades when the herb is dried.
Fresh chervil is a welcome addition to practically any savory dish.