If you’ve ever ordered a baked potato at a restaurant, it was probably served with things like cheese, bacon, sour cream or a sprinkling of small green bits on top. You may have seen those little green specks of vegetable and wondered whether they were chives, scallions, or green onions. You may also have wondered what the difference is between those three things or if there even is a difference.
What’s the Difference Between Chives, Scallions, and Green Onions?
So are these would-be potato toppings actually different? As far as scallions and green onions, the answer is no; scallions and green onions are two interchangeable terms for the same vegetable: an immature onion derived from various species of the Allium family. The Welsh onion (Allium fistulosum), for example, is often grown specifically to be harvested while still immature. Harvesting at this stage yields a smaller, undeveloped bulb that is desirable because of its sweeter and somewhat milder flavor.
Yet while green onions and scallions are the same thing, chives are a little bit different. Chives also are part of the Allium genus, but in this case they are a specific species: Allium schoenoprasum. Unlike other types of plants in the onion family (leeks, shallots, etc.), the bulb is not generally used in cooking or in food products. Instead, the green stalks are used as an herb while fresh or as a dry ingredient for added flavor. The flowers of the chives plant are also edible and can be diced and used in salads.
Chives and scallions are from the same family of plants and are even used in similar dishes, but they do have some differences that make them useful for different purposes:
- Appearance: The most noticeable difference between the two visually is that chives are thinner with a consistently green color whereas scallions are thicker and the color transitions from white to green. When diced, this makes the scallions more varied in color and thickness and the chives are very uniform.
- Texture: Chives are so thin that any texture they have isn’t discernible; instead the thinness gives them a nice, mild crunch. In scallions, the lower white part tends to be crunchy while the upper green parts tend to be softer.
- Flavor: Flavor is also a major consideration when deciding between the two. The thicker scallions have a more distinctly onion flavor while chives have a more mild, herbaceous flavor. This is also why chives are considered an herb and scallions are considered a vegetable.
- Cooking: Like other types of onions used in cooking, scallions can handle high temperatures as in a stir-fry or even when charred on a grill. The delicate nature of chives, on the other hand, makes them intolerant to high temperatures; if they are cooked too much, they can become bitter and unpleasant.
In many cases, chives and scallions can be used interchangeably. As a baked potato topping, for instance, either chives or scallions could be a tasty addition, depending on the level of onion flavor you wanted. Scallions tend to have a stronger flavor, so you would want to use less of them if you were replacing chives. The only time you truly wouldn’t want to use chives is in a high heat setting because of the resulting bitter flavor.
Health Benefits of Chives and Scallions
In addition to the flavor they bring to any dish, chives and scallions are also beneficial for dietary health. Chives are rich in important nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and iron, but studies indicate that they also contain compounds that may improve cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and the risk of plaque building up in the arteries. There is also evidence that the high concentration of vitamin K in chives can be beneficial for overall bone health and strength; vitamin K is also an antioxidant that can protect the body from free radicals.
Scallions are also rich in vitamin K and other nutrients that are part of a healthy diet; this includes antioxidants that help with immune system function and may even have a role in preventing cancer and other diseases. The one element scallions have and chives don’t is significant fiber content. Dietary fiber is a crucial part of both digestive health and overall health. One cup of scallions contains 2.6 grams of fiber, which is 10% of the recommended daily value of fiber in your diet.
Common Uses for Chives
As noted earlier, the delicateness of chives makes them not a good choice for cooking with high heat, though they can be sprinkled on near the end of the cooking process. Generally speaking, though, fresh chives are best used as garnish that also imparts some oniony flavor. They can also be dried and used as an ingredient in various commercial food products. Below are some common ways to use fresh chives:
- mashed potatoes
- deviled eggs
- spreads and dips
- compound butter
Common Uses for Scallions
Scallions (also sometimes known as spring onions) are a staple in many cuisines around the world, especially in Asian cuisine where they are often used with garlic and ginger. Because of the undeveloped white bulb and leafier green top, some dishes even call for using the white bottom in cooking and the green top as a garnish. Below are some common uses for scallions:
- savory baked goods
Partner With Silva
The versatility of both chives and green onions make them very useful for bringing an oniony flavor to many recipes. But it doesn’t just have to be fresh; dried chives and green onions can be used in sauces, seasoning blends, salad dressings, and bakery products. At SIlva, we are passionate about offering the highest quality dried ingredients that you need to help you deliver the best product for your customers.
The vegetables we use are sourced from only the best locations from around the world. After the product enters our state-of-the-art facility, it is cleaned and sorted before being cut to your specified size. With the best ingredients and a commitment to flexibility and a YES approach, you can trust Silva to be a reliable partner for your business. If you’d like to learn more about our products or how we can meet your needs, please contact us today.