Chive Blossom Vinegar

This time of year the chives are growing well and sending up lots of scapes with flowers atop. We let ours grow in this year to add some colour to the herb garden. With such a bounty of flowers, I started to wonder what they could be used for. A friend of mine had the same thought so I did a quick search online for possible uses.

After typing “cloves” in google and obviously getting the wrong plant in my search results, my brain starting working again and I realized that I had taken dyslexia to a new level. There are lots of recipes out there for making chive vinegar, but I found that quite a few missed some key steps in preserving so I’ve added my version here.

First thing to do is locate chives in bloom. If you don’t have any in your own garden, I’d recommend permanently borrowing some from a friend. To do this, call said friend, invite them out for dinner, and don’t show up. While they are waiting for you, simply let yourself into their back garden and pillage their crops. Cut, don’t pull, the flowers right at the top of the scape. A little green won’t hurt, but too much and the colour of the final vinegar may not be the desired shade.

Once you have a good collection of blossoms, do not wash them. A lot of the recipes online specify washing that flowers. Why? Apparently people are afraid of bugs. Chives are a great insect repellent for your garden and if you do find any creepy crawlies on your flowers, just blow them off. If it really bothers you to think that a tiny insect may be in your vinaigrette, run back into the bubble you live in and breathe in the purified air, and take your medication. If you do wash them, you’ll lose the essence of outside and some of the flavour that the pollen will provide.

Sterilize a glass mason jar by either submerging in cool water and bringing to a boil, or by using a sulphite spray. When you are using even new jars, you must wash them well with soapy water before sterilizing. There is residue from the factory, and this should worry you more than insects.

In a saucepan boil some vinegar. I used white distilled vinegar (p.s. all vinegar in Canada is distilled by law) but you could also use white wine vinegar. Avoid apple cider vinegar as the taste is overpowering.

Stuff your blossoms in the jar and fill within half an inch of the lip with the hot vinegar. When filling your jar with blossoms, it really is the more the merrier. Push down any blossoms that won’t sink.

To create a seal between the jar and the lid, boil the kettle and pour some of the water in a dish with the lid of the jar dropped in. After two minutes, the rubber gasket will soften and then you can place the lid on the jar. Screw on the band (not too tight) and wait. Now stop waiting, and have a look at the liquid. It starts to bleach the flowers of their colour and take on a lovely pink hue. Leave the jar to sit in a dark place for a few weeks before enjoying.

Clove......errrr....... Chive vinegar

If you try this recipe, let me know how it works out for you, or how you dealt with the botulism.

Garden is planted!

The last couple of weeks have been a little mad around here. Between work, the garden, the kitchen and all of the usual events that pop up, neither of us have had much time to do anything. Luckily, today we took some photos (finally) to share of the progress in the garden.

Taking advantage of the Victoria Day weekend and having a pickup truck, we moved a lot of soil, plants and wood. Last year we had three raised beds on the vegetable side but left space for two more 4×8′ beds. After visits to three Home Depots for 1x8x8’s (for some reason, Home Depot doesn’t like to carry common cedar planks, and the ones they do carry are so warped, you could wrap them around a corner) we built and installed the new boxes. We moved about 1 1/2 cubic yards of triple mix but fell short of filling both. We did however fill the cedar boxes I made a few weeks ago for our bean wall. Originally, on our patio, we had bamboo blinds hanging that were left behind by the old owners. We never used them, and we aren’t really worried about hiding from our neighbours so we pitched them. To get the most out of our garden, I built the boxes and strung glow in the dark rope for the beans to climb in a diamond pattern. If the cat will stop relieving herself in the one end of the box, we should get quite a crop of beans and a nice living wall.

This photo brought to you by Costco.

After planting the jalapeños and hot banana peppers in a raised bed, we planted the red hot chilli and scotch bonnet in hanging hot pepper planters. Special thanks to the person at my work who decided to throw away hundreds of dollars worth of cedar planks in the skip round back. This salvaged timber has helped build a lot of things around the garden this year, including the brackets for the pepper planters.

The idea behind the hanging pepper planters is that it receives more heat as there is more surface area which enables the plants to produce more peppers, faster. Downside to these planters is that they dry out easily and with the heat we have already had this year, it’s been hard to keep up. Each planter has seven holes around the sides which you plant 7-14 started plants in. Doubling up plants in the holes is supposed to help them root better, but we’ll have to see how that works out. Within the next 6 weeks I’ll start the first batch of hot sauce. If it’s any good, there will be plenty to share with those who don’t mind it being as hot on the way in, as on the way out.

Five bags of heat!

 

On a sad note, our artichokes didn’t make it through the winter. We were really looking forward to them fruiting for the first time this year, but they just couldn’t hack it. Forgetting that miserable thought, our raspberries are going bananas. I don’t mean long and yellow either. We had to weave them to keep the plants off the ground, and if the birds permit it, we should have a nice bounty of them as well. Our neighbours we back onto gave us a rhubarb to transplant. At first it didn’t look good for our latest addition, but over the last couple of weeks the plant has perked up and started some new stalks and leaves.

Raspberries or triffids?

There isn’t a whole lot to see on the vegetable side of the garden as most are still little tiny plants without any fruit. The other half of the garden is devoted to all things flowery and pretty. This is the side to see. First off is the shade garden. We added some hostas, lilies of the valley, bleeding hearts and periwinkle.  The ferns even came back from last year that we thought we had lost to the bastard squirrels.

Shady business

We were lucky to get some nice planters this year from family and friends. My mother gave us an old galvanized wash basin, and a good friend of our gave us two of her concrete creations. She is a furniture designer/maker and uses concrete in some of her pieces. These two were meant to be bedside tables with drawers but didn’t make the cut. (For more on her work, visit http://www.jeanwilloughby.com).

Planters galore!

So with most of the plants in, there was just one piece of business to take care of; the cat who keeps emptying her bowels and playing in the plants. Pretty simple really, we rung her neck, waited for rigor mortis to set in and we now leave her out the back door to brush the mud off our shoes.

Your boots will never be cleaner!

Once we have more growing and worth looking at, we’ll post more pictures. There is still a lot to be done in the next few weeks, but once things get going, it will be time to sit back and eat the proceeds of our hardwork.

P.S. I was joking about the cat, but if do have a dead cat lying around, you should read 101 Uses for a Dead Cat by Simon Bond.