Scallions and Leeks and Chives - Oh My!

We have lots of first time gardeners as customers. We get asked all the time, what is the difference between a scallion and a chive. Its confusing but we found a chef to clear things up... 


"They're all alliums, along with onions, garlic and shallots.Onions,  garlic and shallots, we use the bulbs.  Leeks, scallions and chives we use the green/white stem.  Leeks are the biggest and I think the mildest flavor. They are usually cooked.

Scallions/green onions are usually used uncooked as final flavor/garnish. When cooked they can take on a soapy flavor if sauteed much. But they're good grilled whole. I think these have the strongest flavor and to my taste have a bit of hotness to them.

Chives are a thinner plant, though there are two varieties.  The slightly broad flat leafed kind are the classic baked potato garnish and have a mild onion flavor with just a bit of green earthy sharpness. This is the kind most often used.  The other kind is even thinner and usually called garlic or Chinese chives. As noted they do have a garlic/onion flavor.

With chives the tip is sometimes a bit wilted so don't use that. Towards the base, they can be a bit woody and tough too. The blooms from chives are sometimes used in salads/garnishes as they are edible. I'm not fond of eating the blooms--flowery garlic is not a flavor I find pleasing.

I don't consider them interchangeable. The flavors are different and so is the texture. As noted, leeks are usually cooked, green onions may be cooked 50/50 or raw, and chives are rarely cooked or added for just the last couple of minutes as the seem to lose their flavor if cooked much."



So to summarize, a green onion is the same as a scallion. Chives are different than scallions but there are two types, garnish chives and garlic chives - each with a different flavor. Leeks are bland and we don't sell leeks because nobody buys them - probably because they are redundant. So there you go.. A lesson in in onions from Mauro!

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