by Lisa Giroday, Sandra Lopuch and Sam Philips | Chervil, or Anthriscus cerefolium, is an annual herb that is a relative to parsley, only it’s more delicate in flavour and appearance with light green, lacy leaves. It’s also a relative of carrots (witness the striking similarity it and carrot tops).
Chervil tastes similar to anise or licorice – but only faintly so. It’s one of the French traditional fines herbes, like parsley, tarragon, and chives, and it’s perfect for culinary use with milder ingredients like salmon, trout, new potatoes, mild cheeses, asparagus, omelettes, or in a herbal butter. We currently love it mixed into winter salads. Because it loses flavour when cooked, add it as a garnish, or as the final addition to your dish at the very end of the cooking process. Do not dry chervil. It’s much better fresh. If preserving, freezing or preserving in white wine vinegar are the best methods.
Chervil has a history of medicinal use, dating back to the Middle Ages. Native to Eastern Europe, it was once called “myrrhis” because the volatile oils extracted from his fine herb has a similar fragrance to the biblical resin that we know as myrrh.
It is said in Folklore that chervil symbolizes sincerity, sharpens the wit, bestows youth, and makes one merry. It soothes the digestive system and is an excellent source of antioxidants that reduce inflammation associated with headaches, sinusitis, peptic ulcer, and infections.
In the garden, chervil may be delicate in appearance, but it is cold-hardy. It prefers cooler and moist conditions, making it ideal for spring or early fall sowings. It grows quickly, and is ready for harvest 6-8 weeks after sowing (sow successively for continuous harvest). It grows well in containers – but sow from seed, as it bolts easily when transplanted. When you are ready to sow your seeds in the springtime, don’t forget chervil! And, for now, enjoy eating it – it’s often the flavour in your dish that you can’t quite put your finger on.
Victory Gardens is a team of local urban farmers for hire. Lisa, Sandra and Sam help transform tired or underused residential and commercial green spaces into food producing gardens. Their goal is to challenge the way communities use space and to participate in the change needed to consume food more sustainably. For the rest of the growing season, they’ve hooked up with Scout to share some cool tips and tricks on how to get the best from of our own backyards.