Chervil is an herb particularly used to season certain foods such as poultry, seafood, young vegetables, soups, stews, and sauces. it can be described as mild aromatic licorice or aniseed. It also has an edible root which is consumed as a vegetable.
Botanically, this herb which is related to and resembles parsley but with a more delicate flavor comes from the Apiaceae family in the Anthriscus genus.
Chervil is also referred to as French parsley, sweet cicely, or the more precise garden chervil. It is an annual crop that reaches about 50cm to 70 centimeters tall when mature. It produces curly leaves and a fruit that reaches about 1 cm long. It grows best in fertile, well-drained soils in temperate to cold regions and is ready for harvest six to eight weeks after sowing.
The herb is native to regions bordering Europe and Asia or Caucasia. These are areas around Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Russia, and Turkey. It is now an essential part of French cuisine and others in the Mediterranean area.
Fresh and dried chervil is available throughout the year in marketplaces. The dried leaves can be purchased in stores crushed or in powdered form. These are packaged in plastic sachets or containers. One should be careful to purchase this herb from reputable stores if buying it in powdered form as suspect sources may be in the habit of adulterating high-quality products with lower quality leaves.
Fresh chervil can be stored in a refrigerator in a ziplocked bag. The dried leaves should be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry, and dark place where they will keep for several months.
How to use Chervil in Your Food Preparations
If using fresh leaves, wash them thoroughly under cold running water then pat dry with a kitchen cloth. Chop the leaves finely with a knife and add them to your dishes at the end of the cooking process. If used in salads or as a garnish, it should be sprinkled on the food just before serving.
Chervil is an essential part of a green sauce or sauce verte, the same goes for the Chimichurri sauce which is an Argentinian green sauce. It is also a popular ingredient in the salsa verde cold sauce from the Mediterranean region.
Nutritional and Health Benefits
Chervil has plenty of nutritional benefits in addition to medicinal properties. It is considered an antifungal, antiseptic. It is used to aid digestion and the lowering of blood pressure. Together with vinegar, it is used to relieve hiccups.
Chervil is very rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, dietary fiber, and energy. The plant contains 237 calories per 100 grams. It contains no cholesterol and contains more than 100% of the daily recommended allowance.
It is a rich source of carbohydrates, protein, fats, and essential oils. It is rich in B-complex vitamins which include folates, niacin, and pyridoxine. It is also rich in riboflavin, and thiamin. In addition to these, it is also rich in vitamin A and vitamin C.
Chervil is a great source of Potassium as well as other minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and zinc. Chervil also contains decent amounts of sodium.