Thursday, May 26, 2011

Chive Vinegar


The chive flowers have been blooming for about two weeks now.  They are such cheerful adornments for the garden.  Each year I take a division from the parent plant and start a new colony somewhere, even though one plant could easily go for three years between divisions.  It hasn't seemed to hurt the plants any to divide them more aggressively.


This spring I finally got around to plucking some of the flower heads to make chive vinegar.  I'd been meaning to do it for years, but good intentions got lost in the whirlwind of spring chores that must be done as soon as temperatures permit.  Had I known how gorgeous the infused vinegar would be I might have gotten to it sooner.  Look at the color!

For this infusion I used plain old distilled white vinegar, which, having no color of its own to begin with, probably helps the color given by the chive blossoms stand out so clearly.  If I'd had any of our own apple cider vinegar left I probably would have used that and not gotten so brilliant a shade.  I chose chive blooms that were just fully opened, still soft and with full color.  After the blooms have been open for a while they sort of stiffen up and the color becomes pale, before they begin to dry and turn brown.  I worked by feeling the blooms with my fingertips, checking for the right amount of give.  I washed them gently and spun them in a salad spinner, then pulled all the individual flowers off the flower head.  I got the same eye-stinging effect from doing this as I do when chopping onions.  Chive flowers pack a wallop!

I didn't use all that many blooms to my quart of vinegar - perhaps ten or so.  After just a week of steeping, the color and flavor of the vinegar is pronounced.  The flavor is oniony of course, but it lacks the pungent bite of raw onion; strong but mellow flavor is what we've got.  I'll strain off the spent blooms in another week or so, by which time I expect they'll have contributed all the flavor they've got to give.  I'm well aware that the color may darken and dull over time.  I've seen that happen with raspberry vinegar.  But I imagine the color will still be pleasant.  It seems to me, though I can't swear to it, that my chives sometimes bloom again later in the year.  If the color of this vinegar holds up well, or even for a few months, I may take cuttings from a late season bloom to make more chive vinegar.  If I can find pretty bottles at a rummage sale or yard sale, they would make nice gifts to give away for the winter holidays.  Whether the color holds up prettily or not, we'll be using this quite a bit in salads.

22 comments:

Allison at Novice Life said...

I love Chive blooms -- what a great idea! If it ever stops raining here, I might give this a try!

Rachelle said...

If you cut back your chives quickly after flowering, they do indeed repeat bloom. I am definitely going to attempt this myself!

Paula said...

I've been eating the chive blossoms in salads; actually, the buds- I don't always wait for them to actually bloom.

I never thought of making a swell vinegar from them. Do you have to pull all the little flowers out?

I would guess that if you kept it in a dark cupboard, the color would last longer.

teekaroo said...

What a great idea. I dug some chives out of my mom's garden for myself this spring. No blossoms yet.

louisa @ TheReallyGoodLife said...

Wow, fab colour and I bet the taste is amazing too. I'm going to have to start growing chives again so I can join in the fun!

Anonymous said...

I've made chive vinegar for years, it's one of my favorite herbal vinegars. I just fill a jar or bowl with the blossomes, cover with vinegar and strain after a week or two. I find distilled white vinegar is very harsh and flavorless, so I only use it for cleaning. For infusted vinegars, I use rice vinegar (which I buy by the gallong) or even white wine or champagne vinegar (which is more expensive).

Chive blossom vinegar will fade from the lovely bright pink to a staw yellow color after a few months, but is still attractive and delicious. Another bright rose-colored vinegar I make is by infusing opal basil (or another red basil), which does keep its color very well.

Marie

saving for travel said...

What a great post, I also eat chive flowers in salads but never thought of using them in vinegar.

Thank you.

Sft x

Aimee said...

How beautiful! I have blooming chibes right now too and didn't know what to do with them. Now I do!

Mitzi G Burger said...

That's a mighty pretty vinegar. Enjoy the tangy salads to come.

Hazel said...

We've been eating the chive blossoms too- I put some in a duck egg and (leftover) pasta omelette/tortilla the other day.

Kate said...

Allison, have fun with it!

Rachelle, thanks for the tip. I could almost swear that I've seen mine bloom again late in the year without cutting back though.

Paula, I've used chive blossoms in various things too - omelets, quiche and salad, among other things. I don't know whether pulling the little flowers out is necessary or not. I was going on instinct, and perhaps tangentially related experience with elderflowers when making cordial.

teekaroo, you may yet get some this year. If not, count on it for next year.

Louisa, yeah, I really like the flavor, in spite of having started with distilled white vinegar, which, as anonymous indicates, is rather harsh and bland. Have fun growing your chives.

anon/Marie, I'll bet your chive vinegar is better than what I've made. And thanks for the tips. I'll keep rice wine vinegar in mind for next time.

SFT, you're welcome!

Aimee, enjoy experimenting with them.

Mitzi, thanks. I plan to.

Hazel, yes, they seem very compatible with eggy dishes.

Ellen said...

I just started some chive flower vinegar last night! I've made peach vinegar before, from skins and pits of Indian Blood peaches. It was beautiful and tasty!

el said...

Thanks for adding to my vinegar madness, Kate. I made some the other day (hat tip to you) with white wine vinegar. It's a gorgeous color now. I just need to find the space for it...

Sarah said...

I made chive vinegar a couple of years ago using cider vinegar infusing a jar full of chive flowers and the colour of the vinegar was even more pronounced - deep red! I haven't used it up yet, so have left most of the chive flowers for the bees - they are always covered with bumble bees in both my gardens.

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Hmmm...I've never made chive vinegar before. Thanks - I'll have to try it!
Staci

Carolemc said...

That vinegar looks very pretty.

I was interested to see that you are reading the new book by Sepp Holzer. Wonder what you think. I've re-read it a couple of times already. I was particularly interested in his use of green manure plants/mulch and seed mixing.

Carole x

Michael said...

Chive blossoms are beautiful and what a clever idea to make chive vinegar. I love the taste of both! Great blog.

Michael

Kate said...

Ellen, I've never heard of using skins and pits from peaches before. Thanks for the tip.

El, anytime. I can well imagine that your infused vinegar collection is quite extensive.

Sarah, that's good to know about the color. I'm going to aim to have plenty of apple cider vinegar on hand this time next year. Thanks.

Staci, have fun with it.

Carolemc, Sepp's book is pretty awesome, despite the fact that the specifics of what he does have very limited applications for my property. Like you, I'm finding his chapter on gardening the most interesting and useful.

Micheal, thanks. Hope you enjoy playing with many batches of infused vinegar.

Lily Girl said...

I made purple basil vinegar and found the color to hold up pretty well. I did can it, so I don't know if that made a difference. (Canning isn't necessary, obviously, but I think it does extend the shelf life of infused vinegars quite a bit.)
I'm definately going to make a chive vinegar when mine bloom, thanks for the idea!

Kate said...

Lily Girl, how long has the color held? I have purple basil, and I wonder what color it would turn vinegar. As one commenter noted, the chive vinegar has lost its color just recently for me. I estimate it held up for three months. The color now is fairly pale. I don't mind too much, since the flavor is still great, and will definitely try with cider vinegar next time.

Anonymous said...

It looks so beautiful, I love this idea. Random question, what is that almost lime green plant growing underneath your chives? I have it in many places in my grass but I always just though it was a weed.

Kate said...

Anon, that was a thyme; maybe lemon thyme. We do have a common weed that looks vaguely similar, though I'm not sure what it's called.