Sometimes known as "French Parsley," Chervil with its Anise-Like Taste is one of the Fines Herbes and Closely Associated with French Cuisine.
Chervil
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Chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) is a member of the parsley family, and visually is a pale, feathery version of its cousin.  There are two varieties, curly and flat-leafed, with little difference in taste.  Its flavor is a bit like a very mild-tasting tarragon or anise.  It is a native of southeastern Russia and Asia and was carried to other parts of Europe by the conquering Romans, eventually to Brazil in the 1600s.

Chervil is almost exclusively associated with French cooking, so much so that it is often called “French parsley.”  Is one of the four herbs in Fines Herbes, as well as a key ingredient in Bearnaise Sauce, both standards of French cuisine.  The French also use the root of the chervil plant in soups and stews, but that practice seems to be limited to France.  For many centuries it was mainly cultivated in France, but some herb growers are now raising it in parts of California.

Availability

Chervil is available year round.

Production

Though technically chervil is a biennial plant, in practice it behaves more like an annual.  It grows from seed in pots or ground, and likes cooler weather, half shade and a lot of moisture.  If it is too hot or dry, the plant will “bolt,” producing its small white flowers and seeds in an attempt to survive, after which it’s not much good for cooking.  Use the outer hardier leaves first and it will continue to produce more from the inner parts of the plant.

Purchasing

Fresh Chervil is sporadically available in regular grocery stores, or you can sometimes special order it from a produce department.

When buying fresh Chervil, the leaves should be dark green on top and a lighter green underneath with no yellow or brown spots.  Dried Chervil leaves will be more faded, but should still retain a little green color.

Storage

It will last nearly a week refrigerated, or you can chop the leaves finely and freeze them in a little water in ice cube trays for later use.  Dried chervil has little flavor; we strongly recommend you use fresh.  It grows easily from seed, and growing your own plant may be the best solution to the problem of sourcing.

Culinary Uses

Chervil has a very delicate flavor and should only be added at the very end of cooking, or not cooked at all.  Raw sprigs of it are good in green salads, and it also pairs beautifully with potatoes, eggs, fish, mixed with cream cheese or Crème Fraiche and in soups.  At times it is used as a direct substitute for parsley, and its fern-like leaves make a lovely garnish.

Portion Size

Allow 1-2 t of Chervil per recipe.

Substitutes

Parsley

Nutritional Value USDA
CHERVIL,DRIED
Amount Per 100g
Calories 237
%Daily Value*
 
4%
Total Fat 3g
0%
Saturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
0%
Cholesterol 0mg
3%
Sodium 83mg
100%
Potassium 4740mg
16%
Total Carbohydrate 49g
44%
Dietary Fiber 11g
Sugars 0g
Protein 23g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Nutrition

Chervil has a number of reputed medicinal uses—as a digestive aid, a treatment for eczema , gout and kidney stones,  and is helpful in lowering blood pressure.  In early accounts, there are claims it makes you “merry” and that it can help sharpen a dull mind.

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

Yes

Low Calorie

Yes