One of the Fines Herbes
of Traditional French Cuisine!
Also Known As:
Apiaceae (formerly Umbilliferae)
Growing Tips: Chervil does not transplant well due to its long taproot. It is best sown directly onto its permanent location in spring or fall or grown in a winter greenhouse. It will quickly go to seed if grown in a location that is too dry or hot. Remove flower stems to prevent bolting.
Caucasus (a region at the bordering Europe and Asia), but it has naturalized in other parts of Europe and North America
Partial shade in moist areas with a pH around 6.5. Blooms from May to July.
Chervil has been cultivated in Europe since the days of the Romans who are responsible for its introduction and naturalization in much of Europe today. In medieval days it was considered a spring tonic herb eaten to cleanse the body of winter’s impurities, especially during the Lenten Season. Chervil’s anise or licorice aroma is reminiscent of myrrh, one of the gifts believed to have been brought to the new baby Jesus in Christian tradition. Therefore it has been a long standing tradition to serve Chervil Soup on Holy Thursday.
Chervil is not reserved for the Lenten Season, however. It has a long history of culinary use throughout the years, especially in France where it is one of the four herbs in fines herbes (along with tarragon, chives and parsley).
In addition to its place of high regard in the kitchen, Chervil has a long history of use medicinally. Pliny the Elder noted its warming medicinal properties in early AD. Noted herbalist and botanist Nicholas Culpeper wrote in the 17th century “Chervil, being eaten, doth moderately warm the stomach, and is a certain remedy to dissolve congealed or clotted blood in the body, or that which is clotted by bruises, falls etc. The juice or distilled water thereof being drank, and the bruised leaves laid to the place, being taken either in meat or drink, it is good to help provoke urine, or expel the stone in the kidneys, to send down women’s courses and to help the pleurisy and pricking of the sides.”
Chervil is still used medicinally today but not as significantly as in the past. An infusion of leaves and flowers is commonly used in European folk medicine to lower blood pressure.
Today, Chervil is most commonly grown for use in the kitchen. With its sweet anise or licorice flavor, it complements fish, poultry, and salads. It is also used in sauces, such as béarnaise sauce. Note: Chervil loses its flavor quickly when heated so should be added at the end of cooking.
Parts of the Plant Used:
Fresh or Dried Leaves
Stimulant, metabolism, lowers blood pressure, diuretic, expectorant
Infusion: Steep 1 teaspoon of fresh or dry chervil in ½ cup of water. Take ½ cup to 1 cup a day, unsweetened, a mouthful at a time.