If you have chives in your garden, and live in the northern hemisphere, it’s a good bet you’ve got chive flowers now. Please, if you do nothing else this weekend, don’t let all that beautiful chive blossom go to waste – seize the opportunity to make some chive flower vinegar!
I made this for the first time last year, just a small batch in a 330ml jam jar, with white wine vinegar and about a dozen chive flowers from the garden. It was *glorious*.
The vinegar is somewhere between a slight blush pink and a brash almost pinky-purple, and has a lovely fresh onion flavour which complements salads and savoury dishes perfectly. I guarded my single bottle of 2012 vintage chive flower vinegar jealously, knowing it would be a year before I’d be able to make any more.
But this story, sadly, has a tragic end. On Christmas Eve, while I was buzzing around the kitchen trying to do all of those last minute things, I opened an over-full kitchen cupboard and my precious bottle of chive flower vinegar tumbled off the shelf, bounced on the counter, and smashed into a million pieces on the slate floor. The kitchen was filled with the gorgeous fresh smell of chives. I could have cried. Instead, I mopped, not at all comforted by the fact that the floor came up absolutely *beautiful* from its vinegar rinse!
It’s fair to say that I’ve been waiting for chive flower season ever since. And now it’s here. Usually, I’d wait to blog a recipe or process like this until it was complete and I could show it to you all the way through. But you need to make this now – not in a few weeks time when the vinegar will be infused and ready to bottle – so here goes.
So, for your very own, glorious chive flower vinegar, you will need to get together the following –
- Gather all your lovely, fresh, open chive flowers. Even if you only have about a dozen, it’s worth making a small batch (I successfully made about a 330ml volume of vinegar in a large jam jar lat year). Pick them with as little stem as you can, and give them a good shake to dislodge any resident insect life.
- I like to use white wine vinegar, though I know others use cider vinegar, rice wine vinegar, or even white malt vinegar. Champagne vinegar would be a ‘premium’ choice. Choose something light coloured to bring out the lovely colour of the chive flowers.
- A jar the right size to take all your chive flowers and vinegar. A kilner-type jar with a rubber gasket is ideal, but a large jam jar will do fine, as long as it has a plastic-lined lid. Wash and dry the jar carefully before use.
- A colander to wash the flowers, and a salad spinner, if you have one (I don’t).
I’m going to come clean here, and admit that I didn’t grow all of these chive flowers. Hubby was able to scrounge them from a lovely kitchen garden! After removing as much of the stalk as you can, give them a good wash to remove any bugs and insects – a few ants were all that seemed to come in on these ones – and give them a good shake to remove any water, or put them in a salad spinner for a few turns.
Then put all your flowers in your jar. Mine is a 2l kilner jar but use whatever you have conveniently to hand – probably not something quite this large! Mine happens to be filled but it doesn’t need to be, 1/4 to 1/3rd full will still give you a lovely infusion, though the colour won’t be so striking.
Keep the vinegar bottles – you can re-fill them with the infused vinegar later. As an extra bonus, the labels came off these bottles pleasingly easily!
Now, close your jar, and put it somewhere cool and dark for a couple of weeks. I’m planning to infuse it for 3 – 4 weeks, but keep an eye on it and have the occasional taste, as it may be that you’re happy with it earlier. Once you’re happy, strain the vinegar through a fine sieve or a muslin back into the vinegar bottles, label, and store in a kitchen cupboard or larder until you’re ready to use it.
There you go – simplicity itself! It’s thrifty, too – just the price of some basic vinegar, and a little bit of time, give you this gorgeous very special condiment. Make some this weekend, I promise you won’t regret it. In a few weeks you’ll be enjoying this gorgeous, fresh, oniony-summery-savoury note with all your favourite salads and summer dishes. But keep some back, too, for later in the year. Like elderflower cordial, it brings an amazing bottled aroma and taste of summer to your table in the colder, darker months!
P.S. Just a quick update to give you an idea of the colour – this is my vinegar jar after just 48 hours infusing in the cupboard under the stairs. Gorgeous, isn’t it?
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