IMG_1214-Chervil-2017
Anthriscus cerefolium

Each year I am amazed at how little I  know about what people ate before we had grocery stores to purchase all our food. Chervil dates back to biblical times. Some people say that the fragrance resembles the myrrh that was given to the baby Jesus by the wise men. This was the reason in early times it was a tradition to serve Chervil soup on Holy Thursday. During the Middle Ages, it was used for medicine and food. The Roman Scholar Pliny (Gaius Plinius Secundus AD 23 – August 25, AD 79) described the benefits of Chervil in his writing. Today you will find Chervil used in many Mediterranean dishes with it being associated more closely with French cooking.  That does not surprise me since often many of my favorite vegetables, herbs and flowers for smaller gardens that I grow have French names, for example, my favorite tomato is Jaune Flamme a French heirloom!

Chervil  hugging the ground in early March

 Chervil leaves are lacy and beautiful in the garden.This amazing little herb got my attention this year when early March it showed up right after the snow was melting. It was growing in my Urban Potager when nothing else was breaking the surface! It was up before sorrel and at the time of the crocus in my garden. Early spring I realized I needed to find more about this herb since it could be a useful edible when nothing else is growing. I usually count on corn salad/mache for spring eating but the seed failed last fall which meant there were no greens in my spring garden.

I am not a chef but love to watch them on tv. I am watching Chef’s table on Netflix this spring, and I am so inspired by the “artistic” chefs that are on the program. Their approach to cooking is just as an artist. After watching a few episodes, I found they universally look for the best ingredients. This often means they know the farmer or grow their own ingredients. What inspired me most about watching these Chefs was that the food was their “medium” just as an artist may use paint, charcoal or clay to create a masterpiece. The best part of their medium is you get to eat their final creation!

Chervil has delicate leaves

Chervil appears with herbs parsley, thyme, and tarragon in the fines herbes of French cooking. It has a light anise-scented flavor. It is not a herb that can tolerate heat, so it is added at the last moment when cooking stews, soups, and sauces.  Chervil is rich in vitamins and minerals. This observation inspired me to grow an entire raised bed of it for myself. I have to admit that I was not accustomed to eating large quantities of this herb at first since it is not food I grew up eating.  I am still experimenting with ways to utilize this herb in our daily eating other than a  mixed salad green. I did find a recipe for Chervil Pesto, but my first attempt was a flop. I figure it is going to take a few years of trial and error with some recipes.

IMG_1248-chervil-beneficial

Chervil, when it flowers, provides for beneficial insects in late spring to early summer. It flowers from May to June and usually if your patch is in a sunny area will die back. It does get a bit tall towards the end of late spring, but I started some from seed in a raised bed where some had dropped seed from the previous fall. This will give me a  continuous supply of Chervil until summer. I just let it reseed where it pleases in our Urban Potager after it is done flowering this spring and by fall it returns again for fresh eating.

Lentil hummus and fresh Chervil from our spring garden

I will keep you posted as to what I learn about growing this perennial edible for your garden. If you would like to learn more please read some of the resources I provide at the end of this post. Chervil is a beautiful plant to add to your garden and to think it can provide nutrition for you + nature right in the heart of the city! If you have more information or have recipes, please share!!!!! We need to all be growing this herb in our garden.

More resources for Chervil:

 

Written by Robbie

M.S. Education, , Organic Gardener, soil + nature lover, former modern dancer

42 comments

    1. As I wrote above, I never gave it much attention either before I researched this little herb. In the past, I would throw it in a salad or used it to dress up a bowl of hot soup in the spring or fall. Once I saw it come back in my garden before the sorrel and read how nutritious it is for your body, well, I was sold! It needs to be cut to the ground in my garden once the flowers are done providing for the beneficial insects. I find the smallest little bees and other insects on those tiny leaves. I still want to try that Chervil Pesto. It had an interesting flavor-LOL

      1. I recently learned there is a dark purple form (Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’). Different species from A. cerefolium, but may be equally edible. Certainly a beauty!

      2. that is what I was thinking:-) I also read a bit more and found that the Anthriscus sylvestris became invasive. I did find the A. cerefolium did move around in my garden but I just pluck it out where I don’t want it growing. That black A.sylvestris is a beautiful plant!!!!!

    2. Anthriscus cerefolium ( Chervil) vs. the black one Eliza recommended it has a different name Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Raven’s Wing, so not sure about this being same plant but in same family. I need to learn more about it or if you do let me know:-)

    1. I know it does have an unusual flavor but after I realized how nutritious it was and easily it grows in my garden I decided I needed to learn to cook with it. I have acquired a taste for it and seem to enjoy it more but that may just be me. If you don’t like it that is okay. There are so many other plants out there to eat!

    1. I have been using Chervil more this spring and to be honest never paid much attention to it the past few seasons. I used it as a salad green but never realized how important of a herb it is to spring eating:-) I love lovage!!! LOL, I have it all over my garden to eat when I saute greens or make my vegetable rolls. I do have some celery this season, but Lovage is a perennial in my garden and comes back each spring. I use it like celery, but I have heard it can get very tall. I feel like I am a rabbit and eat it so often that it never gets a chance to get too big lol.

      1. A friend has been making me versions of this recipe with gotu kola when it’s available, otherwise with parsley or other green leafy herbs. It’s a delicious combination.

  1. You have sold me! It seems to me I attempted to grow this once, along with sorrel, but never made use of either. I am going to try again now that I have more time to devote to my gardening. What an interesting history. I wonder if chervil would be nice in a homemade cocktail? Thank you!

    1. I was wondering the same thing!!! Let me know + I’ll let you know about it when I find more information. I will share some recipes and how to cook with it on another post later. I just read this morning that the flavor sort of disappears in the cooking, but I feel that is because you can’t use any heat on it. I have found it wonderful in salads and on hummus. I am not a fan of anise flavored things but this had a mild anise flavor and it looks so lovely in the garden early spring when nothing else is growing:-)

  2. I have never tried chervil and am not that great a fan of anise flavoured herbs but if it’s as hardy and bee friendly as you say it is, I might just grow some for the bees and for garden diversity 🙂

    1. lol. I was not so crazy about the flavor but this spring it sure is tasting pretty good in our salads. I have acquired a taste for it:-) I also read how nutritious it is, so I am enjoying it more. The Pesto, hmmm, I may try it again, but it was a bit strong for me in that recipe!

      1. I agree that sometimes you just get a taste for something that previously you weren’t all that fond of. I am going to grow it for it’s bee attracting powers alone and if I like it, I will count that as a bonus 🙂

      2. sounds like a plan and you think like I do:-) Exactly what I do often and shoot if you don’t like it at all , just toss in the compost pile:-)

      1. You know I was thinking the same thing. I let it seed all over my garden, and it is better than creeping charlie.It doesn’t seem to choke other plants out like my creeping charlie!I don’t live near a large countryside, so I am not worried about it spreading to the Forest. I use it to eat and keep it in check-lol.

  3. What a great post! I may have to add this to my herb beds, especially if it comes back. It’s always nice to learn about an herb–I have eaten it, but quite a while ago, so would not mind exploring again!

    1. Always exciting when we find a new plant we can share:-)I look forward to hearing about how you use this in your gardens and cooking:-) I never paid much attention to it until I started researching more perennial edibles. It comes up so early which means I can use it with my corn salad/mache if I get some good seed this year!

  4. It’s quite frilly and pretty isn’t it. I wonder if it would be perrenial in zone 3. I don’t do a vegetable garden but have simple perennial beds started in our yard. I decided, in this house, to keep things simple. I got rather carried away on our old property and landscape/gardening became a full time job. I do enjoy the fragrance of anise, so I’ll give a look-see around the garden centre for Chervil. Thanks for sharing 😀

    1. I agree it is pretty:-) I totally understand the full-time gardening there are days I am starting to wonder if I am a full-time gardener! I read that it might be hard to find at the local garden centre so you might want to get some seed. I like these two seed sources for Chervil. It is so easy to start from seed. You can seed it right in place!
      Happy Gardening!
      https://www.seedaholic.com/catalogsearch/result/?q=chervil
      or
      https://www.wildgardenseed.com/index.php?cPath=32&osCsid=5fad7b43139201c9215df6b96fd68efb

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