Chervil is an annual that grows to about 2 feet tall. It has light green leaves that resemble finely cut parsley. White flowers are produced on flat heads. The flavor of chervil tastes like a mix of parsley and anise.
Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is a delicate annual in the carrot family (Apiaceae) native to western Asia and southern Europe but naturalized in North America. The flavor is slightly reminiscent of licorice, fennel, anise, or nutmeg. Chervil is rarely used on its own for flavoring; rather it enhances other ingredients by bringing out and enhancing their flavors. Chervil, along with other members of the carrot family such as parsley, cilantro (coriander), dill, and caraway are often used in French cooking to finish savory soups and stews.
Chervil is most commonly used as a garnish on salads and fish dishes. When chervil is unavailable, the best substitution is either Italian parsley or cilantro (the flavor of chervil is somewhat sweeter than that of cilantro).
The leaves are finely cut and resemble parsley but are more tender. It has a mild anise or licorice-like taste. Chervil is delicate and very easy to grow. In France, it has been grown for over a thousand years and is still highly prized.
Chervil, although considered a gourmet herb by some, can be somewhat hard to find in grocery stores outside of certain regions, notably the Mediterranean region. While chervil is not as popular as parsley or cilantro/coriander, it is definitely gaining in popularity. A few of the most well-known chervil dishes are Chervil Soup and Chervil Sushi.
Chervil can be grown from seed sown directly in the garden when the soil has warmed up to about 55°F (13°C). It prefers rich, moist, loamy soil. The seeds can take anywhere from three days to two weeks to germinate. The seeds are very fine and should be sown relatively thinly. If planted too thickly, the young seedlings will have problems establishing themselves in the soil.
Chervil will grow in partial shade but prefers full sun exposure to maintain a lush green herb. The soil should be prepared with a neutral pH of 7 and contain organic matter, such as compost or aged manure. Chervil can be grown from seed or transplanted into a garden bed. Sow the seeds indoors 8 weeks prior to planting in your outdoor garden for best results. Plant chervil seeds 1/8 deep in moistened soil. Keep watered until plants are established. Chervil herb can be harvested by cutting the outer stems of the plant just above soil level.
Global chervil production
Chervil is native to the Mediterranean region and has been cultivated for centuries. It is a member of the parsley family, which also includes carrots, celery, fennel, and parsnips. The plant has a delicate flavor that is similar to anise or licorice. It is often used as a garnish or to add flavor to soups, salads, and sauces.
Chervil is a cool-weather crop that does not tolerate frost. It is typically planted in the spring and harvested in the summer. The plant grows to a height of about 12 inches (30 cm) and has small, white flowers. The leaves are finely divided and have a lacy appearance.
Chervil is grown commercially in France, Germany, Italy, and the United States. In France, it is often used as a garnish for poultry, fish, and vegetables. It is also used to flavor soups and salads. In Germany, chervil is used in potato dishes and as a garnish for meats. In Italy, it is used to flavor pasta sauces and soups.
The United States is the largest producer of chervil in the world. The herb is grown in California, Florida, and Washington. It is also grown in Canada and Mexico. Chervil is available fresh, dried, or frozen. It can also be found in some supermarkets in the form of powder or flakes.