Chervil has fine, feathery, light green leaves on a slender stem. It is closely related to parsley and is also called French parsley. It has a delicate, buttery liquorice flavour that is warm, sweet and mildly nutty.
Chervil is part of the traditional French fines herbes, along with parsley, tarragon and chives. This delightful, aromatic blend is best suited to mild foods such as sauces, infused butters, vegetables, eggs, fish, and white meats. Chervil has a delicate flavour that agrees with salmon, trout, asparagus, new potatoes, green beans, baby carrots, light salads and other spring vegetables. The flavour can be easily lost, so it should be added at the end of cooking. It can be preserved in white vinegar.
Chervil is a gentle, warming herb, good for improving digestion. It is thought to reduce blood pressure and a tea made from the leaves was traditionally used as an eyewash. Eating a whole Chervil plant was once common as a way to relieve hiccoughs, and is still used today in some places.
Store in the fridge in the vegetable drawer in original punnet. Use within two days of opening. It can also be frozen by roughly chopping and placing in a zip-lock bag, as is or with olive oil added. Flatten the contents of the bag to make it easy to break into portions. Freeze overnight. An ice cube tray can also be used by pouring a little water or olive oil over the chopped herbs inside the tray.
Culture and History
Chervil is native to Western Europe and Eastern Asia, and was carried to the Mediterranean centuries ago, where it quickly became a favourite in French cuisine. The volatile oil is similar to Myrrh, which gave it the alternative name myrris in the ancient world, and linked it to the Christian Easter festival. In some parts of Europe the tradition remains to serve chervil soup on Holy Thursday.