CHER VIL

In medieval times chervil was considered to be one of the important Lenten herbs. The leaves were eaten along with several other herbs to clear the body of winter ills and ailments.

 

Chervil, anthriscus cerefolium, is a small annual herb with a soft mild flavour. The branched flowering stem grows up to I 8 in (46 cm) high with soft green fern- like leaves, which tend to turn pink at the edges if the plant is in full sun. Most of the leaves grow very close to the ground. The little white flowers are insignificant and grow in flat umbels at the top of the stem, blooming from May to July.
Chervil has such a delicate taste that it is much used in the kitchen to add flavour to salads, omelettes and many other dishes. Hot chervil soup is a warming drink in the winter or when chilled makes a refreshing summer first course to a meal.
Chervil is an easy herb to grow, though it is best to treat the plant as a biennial and sow freshly ripened seed in the autumn. Autumn-sown seed provides leaves for use very early in the year. Sow the seed in a sheltered spot in semi-shade where the plants are to flower. It will grow in ordinary garden soil in a damp position. Seed can also be sown in the spring to produce leaves in the same year. The flowers, which quickly appear, can be cut off to allow all the goodness to be concentrated in the leaves, but if some are left to go to seed chervil will freely self-sow.
Cut chervil for drying before the flowers bloom: dry and store it in the usual way. Dried chervil is useful for the winter months but in the summer it is always best to use fresh chervil.

MEDICINAL USE

Chervil is a purifying herb. It stimulates the digestive system and is a helpful remedy for mild liver and kidney disorders.

Fresh crushed chervil leaves used in the form of a poultice will relieve painful haemorrhoids, bruises and rheumatic joints.
* To make a chervil poultice: Mash the leaves to a pulp with a little moistened bread or put the leaves in the electric blender, Spread the pulp on to a very hot wet cloth and apply directly to the skin. Wrap another cloth around the first to retain moisture and heat.

BEAUTY CARE

Chervil lotion keeps the skin soft and supple and helps to ward off early wrinkles. A compress can be used to soothe tired eyes and puffy eyelids.
* To make a decoction for the lotion and compress:
Use 2 handfuls of the herb to 3 cups of distilled water. Bring the mixture to the boil slowly then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes. Afterwards strain into screwtop bottles. The lotion will keep for a few days stored in a cool place or in the refrigerator.