Chervil
Chervil Bush [Gourmet's parsley, Garden Chervil, Anthriscus cerefolium]

This plant, native to the Caucasus, was spread through Europe during the Roman Empire and today is used there mostly in France. The leaves have a more delicate flavor than parsley and with a hint of liquorice. Today it is commonly called for in gourmet magazines recipes to help you feel inadequate because you can't get it. To be fair, chervil is a standard component of the French fines herbs mix used in more delicately flavored dishes. I imagine it can be had at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market, but nothing will get me to drive to Santa Monica at dawn on Saturday to do battle with desperate chefs from all those fancy West Side restaurants.

On the other hand, chervil can often be found put up in 26 oz jars of brine at markets serving an Armenian community (see photo below).   Photo by Rasbak distributed under GNU Free Documentation License.



Pickled Chervil Buying & Storage:   Chervil is most called for in recipes from France and Armenia. Most recipes call for fresh chervil which is all but impossible to find in Los Angeles, so your chances in Cleveland are probably pretty slim. I have read that chervil is now a commercial crop in California, but that must be in the Sybaritic North since chervil doesn't like heat or dryness - and we're really not so much into French cuisine down here.

Clearly the Armenians are willing to use brine pickled chervil because many of the markets serving that community have it in 26 oz jars. I know it's being bought because I've seen it sold out more than available. I'm not sure how they use it, but the photo specimens and all the rest in the jar I just ate as pickle snacks - quite good.

Fresh chervil can be stored similarly to parsley. If a bit wilted cut off the stem bottoms and stand in water with a pinch of citric acid in it to refresh, wrap lightly and refrigerate. Pickled chervil can be refrigerated tightly sealed in a jar with its original brine for two weeks or more.

Cooking:   For pickled chervil, soak in room temperature water for about a half hour to leach out the salt and citric acid. Fresh, use like any other herb.

Subst:   Use the short inside leafy stems of Celery with a little fresh parsley and just a touch of fresh tarragon. Not quite the same but it'll serve.


Chervil Roots
Chervil Roots [Turnip-rooted Chervil, Tuberous-rooted Chervil, Bulbous Chervil, Parsnip Chervil; Chaerophyllum bulbosum]

This plant is not only a different species from the leaf chervil, it is in a different genus, but always called chervil, so this is the page for it. It was popular from the time of the Roman Empire into the 19th century, Today chervil roots are used in the cuisines of France, mainly in soups and stews, and have been forgotten just about everywhere else.

Unlike the leaf chervil, this plant sends up a long pole-like stem with relatively sparse foliage and flower heads at the top. The roots are typically around 2-3/4 inches long and 1-1/4 inches wide at the top and have a light tan interior color. Properly aged (see Harvesting) they are said to taste similar to chestnuts, with a hint of carrot.   Photo by Ouicoude distributed under license Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike v3.0 Unported.

Buying & Storage:   You probably won't be able to buy any in North America. You'll have to grow your own - if you can find seeds. If you have roots, they can be kept a couple months in the fridge or a cool root cellar.

Growing:   Chervil root seeds must be fresh, and need to be refrigerated below 40°F/4.4°C for at least 2 months before planting. Plant very shallow. They will still have a low germination rate. They like loose, moist soil and will grow in part shade or full sun.

Harvesting:   The roots are harvested after the foliage dies, usually by August from a planting the previous autumn. After harvest, chervil roots are stored in a cool location (root cellar) for three months or more to develop their flavor. This can be shortened by refrigerating them for several weeks.

Cooking:   These roots are always simmered or roasted skin-on for best flavor. They are used in soups and stews, similar to how parsley roots and parsnips are used.

Subst:   Use parsley roots (not parsnips) - not the same as the unique flavor of chervil roots, but serviceable, or perhaps some carrot and chestnuts.

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