Chervil is an aromatic annual herb whose scientific name is Anthriscus Cerefolium and is part of the "umbrellifera" 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 it grows spontaneously in the woods and it is the wild varieties that are the most valuable from an aromatic point of view.
The chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is considered a medicinal and aromatic plant. In our country its use is not widespread, while it is very popular for example in France and the United States. It is used in many preparations, most often as an alternative to parsley. Its flavor, in fact, is quite similar, but more delicate and also recalls that of anise. It goes very well with raw vegetables, salads, omelettes, sauces, meat and fish. It can be used both fresh and dry, although the first opportunity is always preferable as it is the only one that fully preserves all its aroma.
It is a herb that is very fond of the Mediterranean climate, it prefers cultivation in dim light, an excellent choice is to plant it under a tree to protect it especially from high summer temperatures. It is also easy to grow in pots, preferably choosing large and low pots, just scatter the seeds in the ground and after a few months you can collect the leaves. The only precaution to point out is to be careful not to let the seeds go too deep. The chervil it reaches up to 70 cm in height, but the average size is 40 cm, the leaf is of an intense green that in autumn takes on a reddish color, due to its shape it resembles 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 derived. The fruits are small dark seeds that reach one centimeter, similar to those of the fern, dropped to the ground and lead to the spontaneous reproduction of 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 real richness of chervil is given by the ability to eliminate many annoyances in a natural way. We will see below the various benefits.
Origins and characteristics chervil
The common chervil is an annual herbaceous belonging to the Apiaceae family (or umbelliferae), probably native to the Asian steppes, in particular to Russia and the Caucasus. It appeared in Europe around the year 700 and was introduced into cultivation during the Middle Ages, in particular in the gardens of convents.
Its height can range from 30 to 70 cm. The finely carved leaves are a very bright medium green and if rubbed they give off a subtle but characteristic scent. Flowering occurs from May to August with the production of stems bearing umbrella-shaped corymbs.
It is generally very rustic and adaptable to different light and soil conditions and is therefore excellent both for the expert gardener and for the novice.
It has been known since ancient times and has always been used for its digestive, purifying, diuretic and stimulating properties. For example, it is 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||Herbaceous, aromatic annual|
|Exposure||Full sun, partial shade|
|Ground||Not demanding, possibly rich but light|
|Fertilization||With liquid or granular products for vegetables|
|Sowing||Climb, from February to August|
|Collection||From April to November|
|Use||With vegetables, fish, meat, salads, omelettes and omelettes|
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Chervil is rich in Vitamins A and C, the first very important for sight and the second as a prevention from flu. Also rich in mineral salts and above all in iron and magnesium. It also contains essential oils.
Chervil in the kitchen
The most frequent use of chervil is a kitchen, its particular delicate aroma, very similar to parsley, makes it suitable for various preparations, indeed it is preferred by many to the latter precisely for the delicacy it manages to make dishes. Chervil in cooking is widely used in France while in Italy it is still not very widespread but over time many are changing their minds. Excellent to add to both meat and fish soups to which it gives a touch of delicacy. The only disadvantage of chervil is 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. However, given the ease of cultivation it is not difficult to find it and also grow it on the balcony.
Medical and cosmetic use of chervil
Even in the cosmetic and medical sector, 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 to have its purifying benefits or to make an herbal tea that I will indicate below. Being rich in carotene it also helps eyesight.
Many herbal teas with different effects can be made with chervil.
First let's talk about the roots. They are an excellent natural remedy for depression, in this case it is necessary to prepare an herbal tea with chervil roots 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 as with the drying the aromatic qualities are lost, 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 a cosmetic point of view, chervil is also useful for decongesting red eyes, in this case it is necessary to collect some leaves (but also in this case the dried ones can also be used), once you have thoroughly washed them with bicarbonate to eliminate parasites and bacteria, you have to put them in a cup of boiling water. Let the water cool, taking care to cover the cup with a saucer to prevent the chervil principles from freeing. Once cooled, pour and use the liquid obtained to make compresses on the eyes using sterile gauze soaked in the liquid. Leave on for a few minutes.
By making compresses on the face instead, it will be possible to fight wrinkles, signs of aging, oily skin, redness from insect bites. After the pack, the skin will be even more toned. As you can see, there are 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 is the presence of children? chervil is for you because it drives the ants away from your cupboard. Do you have a small vegetable garden that you want to naturally protect from snails? also in this case a small chervil enclosure will help you!
Species and varieties
Two varieties of chervil can be found in cultivation.
The first is the common chervil, very fragrant, with finely engraved and flat leaves.
The second is the curly one, more decorative, but less fragrant, whose plants remain productive for longer.
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, therefore, to obtain the best results, we incorporate a little sand and very mature floured manure.
The ideal location for this annual must be sunny and warm, especially in spring and autumn. During the summer, however, it would be good to shelter it a little from the light to prevent it from becoming too dehydrated and reacting by drying the leaves and starting to deteriorate. We can provide this shade by using special sheets.
Chervil finds its ideal location in the vegetable garden or in an area specifically dedicated to herbs. However, we should avoid combining it with roots or tubers such as carrots or potatoes: it often happens, in fact, that the taste of these is strongly influenced and is then unpleasant on the palate.
However, it also lives quite well in a container, on a balcony, on a terrace or even just on the windowsill.
How to get crevil seedlings?
There are basically two ways. The first is the purchase of a few copies from a retailer. However, it should be noted that this plant is not very widespread in Italy and that its availability varies from region to region. If we want to buy it, it is good to contact a nursery that deals in particular with aromatic and medicinal plants.
The second way is, of course, sowing.
You can start at home or in a warm greenhouse as early as February and then continue until September with gradual sowing in order to always have young individuals full of fresh leaves available.
The 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, we insert a seed in each. 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 lector plates 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 the humidity. It will ventilate 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.
The germination, in these conditions, is rather fast (about 4 days). We wait for the third true leaf to be released and start with the topping, with the aim of obtaining very thick and branched plants. Later we can transfer the single individuals in pots or directly in the ground. Leaf harvesting can generally begin around the fourth to sixth week.
Chervil seedling care
This aromatic needs little care.
If it is in the ground we will have to monitor it to prevent it from being suffocated by weeds. A good method is to regularly weed the soil at the base to keep it clean and clear.
Irrigation must be regular, without exaggerating in order not to compromise the root system. We always check that the substrate is fresh, but never full of water.
To keep individuals compact, well branched 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 twinnability for about 3 years).
If our seedlings are in pots, it will be good to withdraw them indoors (then keeping them in a well-lit area) towards the month of October.
Pests and chervil diseases
It is a fairly resistant herb, 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 to choose a well-ventilated cultivation area. If it should appear, remove all the affected leaves.
Aphids are quite harmful because they suck the sap of plants, compromising their growth and also transmitting viruses. To reduce their impact, a natural pyrethrum-based insecticide can be periodically distributed, avoiding the hottest hours when there are pollinating insects in the area.
On the other hand, it is interesting to note that this plant is particularly unwelcome to snails and slugs. It is therefore recommended to insert it next to salads or other sensitive crops so that they help to remove this annoying enemy.
The harvesting period is generally from April to September, although in the southern regions, with careful gradual sowing, fresh leaves can be obtained even up to November.
We proceed by cutting the jets at ground level. This stimulates the vegetative activity and the production of other stems.
Later, for culinary use, the individual leaves will come off by washing them gently or simply by wiping them with a damp cloth.
Preservation of chervil can be achieved by following two methods.
The first is drying: the stems are placed, tied and upside down, in a well-ventilated and cool area. Once completely dehydrated, the leaves can be cut and placed in tightly closed bags or airtight containers. By following this procedure, however, much of its aroma is lost.
The second and best method is freezing. After cleaning and peeling the chervil, small bags are created 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 them into a saucepan with the finely chopped shallots and aromatic herbs. We light the fire and wait for the volume to decrease by half.
Beat the egg yolks and incorporate them into the preparation using a whisk, so that everything becomes homogeneous.
We place our pot on another full of water bills, in order 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. Wait until the consistency is right (similar to mayonnaise) and serve it hot.
It goes perfectly with meat, fish and asparagus.
- Two bunches of 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 onions in it waiting for them to turn golden. Add the chervil leaves, the broth and the potatoes and let it cook for about 5 minutes. We whisk everything with a blender, salt and pepper.