Garden Chervil is one of the fines herbs play a pivotal role in the Mediterranean, especially French cuisine. Its myrrh-scented, flavorful leaves and stems compose several important chemicals having medicinal values. This parsley family herb perhaps originated in the mountainous Southern Russia and Caucasus regions and spread across the Anatolia and Europe through the Romans.
Binomially, chervil is a common plant genus of the family Apiaceae.
Scientific name: Anthriscus cerefolium. Some of common names are Garden Chervil, French Parsely, Sweet Cicely, etc.
|Chervil-flat leaf variety. Note for light-green, smooth, broad, parsley like leaves.|
Chervil is a small, annual herb growing to a height of 15 inches. Its anise scented lacy, fern-like, light green leaves resemble that of carrot tops. The plant prefers fertile, well-drained soil to flourish. During the early summer, its white bloom appears in tiny umbels as in dill.
Chervil classified into four main varieties:
Garden chervil- plain or curly.
Root chervil (Chaerophyllum bulbosum)- Cultivated for its tapering, parsnip-like root, which used as a vegetable.
Wild chervil or cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris), and
Garden chervil is the most common type grown in the backyards. Its leaves possess subtle, slightly aniseed-like flavor.
Fresh chervil, like parsley, is one of the low calorific herb. Nonetheless, its leaves and stems feature exceedingly high amounts of anti-oxidants, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.
Chervil, being a close member of parsley family of herbs, contains similar health benefiting essential volatile oils like methyl-eugenol (1-allyl-2,4-dimethoxybenzene).
Eugenol has anti-septic actions. It has therapeutic application in dentistry as a local anesthetic and anti-septic agent for teeth and gum diseases. Eugenol has also been found to reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics; however, further detailed studies required to establish its role.
Cervil is the of the herb along with parsley, terragon that is rich in poly-phenolic flavonoid antioxidants, including apigenin. Reaserch studies suggest that apigenin works as neuro-protector and may prevent Alzheimer's disease patients through limiting neuronal damage in their brain. It has also found to have cancer-protective functions as well.
Dried herb is one of the finest source of minerals like potassium, (4740 mg/100 g) calcium, zinc, manganese, iron, and magnesium. Potassium is an important electrolyte inside cell and body fluids that helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure by countering pressing effects of sodium. Iron is essential for the production of heme, which is an important oxygen-carrying component inside the red blood cells. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Furthermore, the herb is also rich in many antioxidant vitamins, including vitamin-A, vitamin-C, vitamin-E, and phenolic anti-oxidants like zea-xanthin, lutein, and cryptoxanthin.
Fresh garden chervil hold many essential vitamins such as riboflavin (vitamin B-2), niacin (vitamin B-3), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins play a vital role in carbohydrate, fat and protein metabolism by acting as co-enzymes inside the human body.
Dried leaves of this herb compose:69% of folates,
Fresh chervil can be available year around in the farmer markets. Dried leaves can easily be found in the spice section in packets, air-sealed bottles, etc. and sometimes as a "fines herbes" mixture. If you are growing them in your backyard, its leaves are ready for harvesting within about six to eight weeks after sowing the seeds. Gather its leaves before the plant begins showing flowers.
In the farmer markets, buy fine, light-green, fresh leaves and firm stems. Avoid wilted, spots, sunken yellow leaves.
Use fresh leaves in the cooking. If you are growing any in your backyard, gather its fresh leaves as needed. Chervil is very fragile but stores well kept in the refrigerator wrapped inside a damp paper towel. Dried herb can store well for few months when kept in a sealed glass container and placed in cool, dark and dry place.
Fresh leaves and tender stems can be used in the cooking. Wash in cold water and dry mop using a soft towel. Finely chop using a paring knife. Its leaves lose flavor on prolonged cooking, so it should be added at the end of cooking or sprinkled on salads, dishes as parsley, and leaf-cilantro.
Here are some serving tips:
|Mediterranean green sauce-salsa verde.
Photo courtesy: toyohara
Chervil's subtle, slightly aniseed tinge enhances the flavor of dishes it added to.
The herb is widely used as a garnish. Many dishes are served with fresh green chopped chervil, parsley sprinkled on top.
Chervil along with parsley, terragon, and thyme is one of the items in classical green sauce, sauce verte.
Chimmichurri is an Argentinian green sauce made from finely chopped chervil, parsley, minced garlic, tarragon, spring onions, olive oil, and vinegar. Its leaves has been used in the preparation of vegetable, chicken, fish and meat dishes.
Freshly chopped parsley is a great addition to green salad.
Freshy and dry parsley leaves can be used in the preparation of chutney, dips, pesto, etc.
Chervil's essential oil chemicals found to have anti-septic and anti-fungal applications.
In many traditioal medicines, chervil herb parts found application as expectorant, stimulant, diuretic (excess urine output) and may help relieve digeston, and high blood pressure symptoms. (Medical disclaimer).
Do not collect chervil (Anthriscus sylvestris) from the wild as it features similar plant morphology to poison hemlock, or fool's parsley (Aethusa cynapium) and water dropwort.
Chervil oil may cause dermatitis in some sensitive individuals. (Medical disclaimer).
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Research articles on nutrition.
1. Refer Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page-Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk (Opens New Window).