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Chervil is an annual aromatic herb whose scientific name is Anthriscus Cerefolium and is part of the "umbrellifere" family. Originally from Russia and the Middle East, it arrived in Europe thanks to the ancient Romans. It is now naturalized in the Mediterranean areas to the point that in the woods it grows spontaneously and it is precisely the wild varieties that are the most valuable from the aromatic point of view.
The chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is considered an officinal and aromatic plant. In our country its use is not widespread, while it is very popular for example in France and in the United States. It is used in many preparations, most often as an alternative to parsley. Its taste, in fact, is rather similar, but more delicate and also reminiscent of anise. It goes very well with raw vegetables, salads, omelettes, sauces, meat and fish. It can be used both fresh and dry, even if the first opportunity is always preferable as it is the only one that fully preserves all its aroma.
It is a herb that likes the Mediterranean climate very much, it prefers cultivation in dim light, an excellent choice is to plant it under a tree to protect it above all from the high summer temperatures. It is easy to grow even in pots, preferably choosing large and low pots, just disperse in the soil of the seeds and after a few months you can collect the leaves. The only thing to point out is to be careful not to let the seeds go too deep. The chervil it reaches a height of 70 cm, but the average size is 40 cm, the leaf is a deep green which in autumn takes on a reddish color, its shape is reminiscent of a four-leaf clover or parsley with which it also shares other properties that we will see in following. At the end of summer it is also possible to notice white inflorescences, before flowering the buds can be removed without damage to ensure a greater production of leaves, it is in fact from these that the properties of this precious plant are obtained. The fruits are small dark seeds that reach a centimeter, similar to those of the fern, dropped to the ground leading to the spontaneous reproduction of the chervil. Seed production increases with high temperatures. This herb has multiple uses in different fields, in the culinary field it is also used as a substitute for parsley, but the true richness of the chervil is given by the ability to eliminate many annoyances in a natural way. We will see the various benefits below.
Origins and characteristics of chervil
The common chervil is an annual herbaceous belonging to the family of the Apiaceae (or Umbelliferae), probably originating from the Asian steppes, in particular from Russia and the Caucasus. It appeared in Europe around the year 700 and was introduced into cultivation during the Middle Ages, particularly in the monastery gardens.
Its height can go from 30 to 70 cm. The leaves, finely carved, are of a very bright medium green and if rubbed they give off a subtle but characteristic perfume. The flowering takes place from May to August with the production of stems bearing umbrellas.
It is generally very hardy and adaptable to different light and soil conditions and is therefore excellent for both the expert gardener and the novice gardener.
It has been known since ancient times and has always been used for its digestive, depurative, diuretic and stimulant properties. It is for example an excellent source of mineral salts (in particular iron and calcium) and above all of vitamin C.
We always buy guaranteed seeds or seedlings from retailers, avoiding looking for it as spontaneous in nature. In fact it is not difficult to confuse it with other plants, such as anthriscus sylvestris or aethusa cynapium, which are very toxic.
|Family and gender|
Apiaceae, Anthriscus cerefolium
|Type of plant||Annual herbaceous, aromatic|
|Exposure||Full sun, half shade|
|Ground||Not demanding, possibly rich but light|
|Composting||With liquid or granular products for vegetables|
|Sowing||Climbing, from February to August|
|Collection||From April to November|
|Use||With vegetables, fish, meat, salads, omelettes and omelettes|
The chervil is rich in Vitamin A and C, the first very important for the eyes and the second for the prevention of influences. Also rich in mineral salts and especially iron and magnesium. It also contains essential oils.
Chervil in the kitchen
The most frequent use of the chervil is a cuisine, its particular delicate aroma, very similar to the parsley, makes it suitable for various preparations, indeed it is preferred by many to the latter precisely because of the delicacy it is able to make to dishes. The chervil in the kitchen is widely used in France while in Italy it is still not widespread but over time many are changing their minds. Excellent to add to both meat and fish soups, giving it a touch of delicacy. The only drawback of the chervil is represented by the fact that it easily loses its characteristic aroma and therefore cannot be dried or frozen, it must be used fresh and added at the end of cooking. Given however the ease of cultivation it is not difficult to find it and also to cultivate it on the balcony.
Medical and cosmetic use of chervil
Even in the cosmetic and medical sector the chervil manages to amaze, in fact it brings benefits to the circulation and purification of the liver, in this case it is enough to add it raw to the various dishes in order to have its purifying benefits or to make an herbal tea which I will indicate below. Being rich in carotene also helps the eyes.
With chervil many herbal teas can be made with different effects.
First let's talk about the roots. They are an excellent natural remedy against depression, in this case it is necessary to prepare an herbal tea with the roots of the chervil and drink it during the day. Of course the roots must be well washed.
A second herbal tea can be made with the leaves, they can be used both fresh and dried since the aromatic qualities are lost with drying, but not the purifying properties. This preparation is excellent for purifying the liver.
Many do not know that many medications sold in pharmacies to combat chilblains and calluses base their strength on the properties of chervil.
From the cosmetic point of view, the chervil is also useful for decongesting reddened eyes, in this case it is necessary to collect leaflets (but even in this case they can also be used as dried ones), once you have thoroughly washed them with baking soda to eliminate parasites and bacteria, you have to put them in a cup of boiling water. Let the water cool, making sure to cover the cup with a saucer to prevent the principles of the chervil from being released. Once cooled, strain and use the liquid obtained to make compresses on the eyes using sterile gauze soaked in the liquid. Leave on for a few minutes.
Making wrinkles on the face, it will be possible to fight wrinkles, signs of aging, oily skin and insect puncture redness. After the wrap, the skin will be even more toned. As you can see many advantages linked to this small herb.
Other uses and curiosities
Do you want to remove insects in a natural way, without dangerous pesticides, especially if there are children present? the chervil is for you because it keeps ants away from your cupboard. Do you have a small vegetable garden that you want to protect naturally from snails? even in this case a small chervil fence will help you!
Species and varieties
In cultivation you can find two varieties of chervil.
The first is the common scented chervil, with finely engraved and flat leaves.
The second is that curly, more decorative, but less fragrant, whose plants remain productive for longer time.
The chervil prefers a light, well-ventilated and fresh substrate, perhaps with a certain percentage of sand, but at the same time rich. Before planting it, then, to get the best results, we incorporate some sand and very mature flour manure.
The ideal position for this annual must be well sunny and warm, especially in spring and autumn. During the summer, instead, it would be good to repair it a little from the light to prevent it from becoming too dehydrated and reacting by drying the leaves and beginning to waste away. We can supply this shade using the appropriate sheets.
Chervil finds its ideal location in the garden or in an area specially dedicated to aromatic herbs. We avoid however to approach it to roots or tubers such as carrot or potatoes: it often happens, in fact, that the taste of these is strongly influenced resulting then unpleasant to the palate.
However, he lives quite well even in a container, on a balcony, on a terrace or even just on the window sill.
How to get the seedlings of crele?
There are basically two roads. The first is the purchase of some specimens at a retailer. However, it should be noted that this plant in Italy is not widespread and that its availability varies from region to region. If we want to buy it, it is good to go directly to a nursery that deals especially with aromatic and medicinal plants.
The second way is, of course, sowing.
You can start at home or in a warm greenhouse already in February, continuing then until September with scalar sowing so that you always have young individuals full of fresh leaves.
The small beds or alveolar trays will be prepared by filling them with soil for sowing or in any case with a rather light substrate. After creating holes about 2 cm deep and 5 cm apart, insert a seed in each one. Let's cover it with a little soil or, if we have it, with agricultural vermiculite. We vaporize abundantly.
The ideal way to obtain a fast germination is to place the loungers or trays in a container where there is always about 1 cm of water. This will be covered with a transparent plastic film, to increase humidity. It will air once a day, keeping everything in a well-lit area, but away from direct sources of light. The ideal temperature ranges from 18 to 20 ° C.
Germination, in these conditions, is quite fast (about 4 days). We wait for the third true leaf to be emitted and begin with the topping, with the aim of obtaining well-dense and accented seedlings. Later we can transfer the individuals in pots or directly to their dwellings in the ground. The collection of leaves can generally begin around the fourth to sixth week.
Care of chervil seedlings
This aromatic needs little care.
If it is in full ground we will have to monitor it to prevent it being suffocated by weeds. A good method is to regularly weed the soil at the base, to keep it clean and clear.
The irrigations must be regular, without exaggerating in order not to compromise the root system. We always check that the substrate is fresh, but never watery.
To keep the individuals compact, well-groomed and full of leaves it is important to remove the flower stems in time so that they never go to seed. This will also ensure a longer production season, also avoiding excessive self-dissemination.
If we want, towards the month of August, we can instead favor flowering in order to then collect the seeds to be used next year (these maintain a good percentage of twins for about 3 years).
If our plants are in pots it will be good to collect them inside (keeping them in a well lit area) towards the month of October.
Parasites and chervil diseases
It is a rather resistant herbaceous, but it can still be attacked in particular by powdery mildew and aphids.
To avoid powdery mildew it is important not to wet the leaves during irrigation and choose a well-ventilated cultivation area. If it appears, we remove all the affected leaves.
Aphids are rather harmful because they suck the sap of the plants, compromising their growth and also spreading viruses. To reduce their impact, you can periodically distribute an insecticide based on natural pyrethrum, avoiding the hottest hours when there are pollinating insects in the area.
It is instead interesting to note that this plant is particularly unpleasant to snails and slugs. It is therefore recommended to place it close to salads or other sensitive crops so that they help to remove this annoying enemy.
The harvest period is generally from April to September, although in the southern regions, with accurate scalar sowing, fresh leaves can be obtained even up to November.
Proceed by cutting the jets at ground level. This stimulates vegetative activity and the production of other stems.
Later, for the culinary use, the individual leaves will be removed by gently washing or simply passing a damp cloth over them.
Chervil preservation can be achieved by following two methods.
The first is the desiccation: the stems are placed, tied and turned upside down, in a well ventilated and fresh area. Once completely dehydrated, the leaves can be cut and placed in tightly closed bags or airtight containers. Following this procedure, however, much of its aroma is lost.
The second method, the best, is freezing. After cleaning and peeling the chervil you create small bags and freeze as quickly as possible.
The Chervil: Recipes with chervil
- a bunch of chervil and tarragon
- two shallots
- 3 egg yolks
- 3 cl of vinegar
- 4 cl of white wine
- 150 gr of possibly clarified butter
- Seed oil
Mix the vinegar and white wine. Pour into a pan with the finely chopped shallots and aromatic herbs. We light the fire and wait for the volume to be reduced by half.
Whisk the egg yolks and add them to the preparation using a whisk, so that everything becomes evenly homogeneous.
We put our pot on another full of water bills, so as to have a bain-marie cooking. Add the butter into small pieces and always mix, possibly using a blender with whisk, so as to lightly whip the emulsion. We wait for the consistency to be the right one (similar to mayonnaise) and serve it hot.
It goes perfectly with meats, fish and asparagus.
- Two bunches of very fresh chervil
- 300 grams of potatoes
- 2 spring onions
- A liter of chicken broth
- 30 gr. of butter
- Salt and pepper
Peel the potatoes and cut them into small pieces, then cook them for about 15 minutes in salted water.
Melt the butter in a pan and put the sliced spring onions waiting for them to turn golden. Add the chervil leaves, broth and potatoes and cook for another 5 minutes. Blend it all with a blender, add salt and pepper.