There's a 100 year old farm just down the road from us that grows all of their crops organically. Every few days, they stock the little barn-side shop on their property with fresh produce, herbs, and baked goods. Locals can stop by just about any time of day to shop, leave their money in the cash box, and head home with truly fresh-from-the-farm food. I love it! One of the things that has been included in the selection at the barn these past couple of weeks is Chive blossoms. They're such delightful blooms to use in the kitchen, so I brought a batch home to enjoy.
The blossoms smell just like Chives and have a bright, mild, onion-like flavor, so I like to use them to accent flavors in savory dishes. One of the ways I like to use them is in a vinegar infusion; the result is always so beautiful - the vinegar turns bright pink within a day or two!
Infusing the blooms in vinegar is fairly simple. Place them in a mason jar and pour fresh vinegar over them until they're covered. Cap the jar, give it a good shake, and set it out on the counter so you'll remember to shake it each day while it infuses. It'll be ready in a few weeks (2 to 6, depending on how strong you want the flavor to be - taste it occasionally to gauge the strength) and then you can strain out the blossoms and store the vinegar in a fresh jar in the pantry or fridge.
Chive blossom infused vinegar can be used to make vinaigrette salad dressings, to flavor meat dishes like chicken or fish, and can be added to soups, eggs, or grilled dishes to add a delicious, bright flavor to the overall plate.
Chives blossoms can also be chopped and added to herbal butters or soft cheeses (including cream cheese). Using them this way can add another layer of flavor to garlic breads, biscuits, breadsticks, potatoes, crackers, or pizza crusts. The stalks can be used in the same way and can also be hung to dry or wrapped fresh around bundles of veggies, like asparagus. Tie one around a bundle of fresh basil and set it in a mason jar with water as a pretty decorative piece for your table.
Chives are a member of the onion (Allium) genus, and are closely related to garlic, onions, and leeks. They have a bright, fresh, mild onion-like flavor and can be grown as a hardy perennial herb in growing zones as low as zone 3. Chives grow happily in almost any soil type, but seem to thrive best in rich, fluffy soil that is well draining and kept moist; they don't like to dry out.
Chives aren't really used medicinally by herbalists, but they are used as a delicious culinary herb. They combine especially well with other aromatic herbs used for flavoring savory dishes. Add them at the last moment when cooking to keep their flavor bright and fresh. The bulbs can be pickled for use in the off-season as well.
Are the Chives blooming where you are? Let me know in the comments below. =)