Sometimes you’ve just got to waste a little time doing something because it looks pretty. The vinegar that I started here is going to have a light chive flavor, but not as much as if I used the green part of the chives. What it will have is an intense lavender color.
Nope, you won’t be able to see the color once it’s on a salad. You’ll only see it in the bottle on the table. No, it’s not part of the plant you’d normally use … it’s not the easiest part to harvest … it’s not fast … pretty much no good reason to make this.
Except boy, is it pretty.
Chives come back each year, something I discovered when I was doing the baked potatoes. After a couple of years, unless you trim them back really hard, you’ll get more than you can use.
My father-in-law has had the same little patch going for several years. When it comes back, it comes in thick and fast and blooms early. He suggested to me that I do the vinegar, and told me I had about two days to come harvest before the bloom dropped. This is what I found.
With a pair of garden shears, clip is close to the bottom of the buds as you can.
As you clip each bud, a little sap will come to the top of the stem. So it’s better to start from the side farther from where you’re standing, then work back towards yourself. Otherwise you’ll get your forearms covered with sap as you keep reaching farther across.
Harvest more than you think you’ll need. The buds shrink a bit as you shove them into the bottle. But more important, if you realize you need more you’re not going to want to go back and harvest more.
On the bottom of each bloom are two little dead petals, that were the outside of the bud before it bloomed. Peel those off.
These buds are a collection tiny little flowers, which means they’re mostly hollow.
That’s why you can squeeze them together and stuff them through the neck of a bottle.
Once you’ve stuffed all the blossoms in, fill the bottle with white vinegar.
Look close, you’ll see that I’m holding the funnel up from the neck of the bottle. If you let it sit right on the bottle and it gets a good seal, the vinegar won’t flow through the funnel smoothly. Holding it up a little allows air in.
Frugal tip Buy white vinegar in the one gallon jug. Keep the jug downstairs, and refill the bottle you keep in the pantry. Vinegar lasts forever.
Yup, holding the funnel up from the neck again.
Put the stopper in the bottle and set it aside for a couple of weeks.
And that’s … the start. It’s been four days since I started this and it’s looking good. I’m going to give it at least two weeks before I try it. Stay tuned …
Want more like this? For more recipes like this, that you can hold right in your hands, and write on, take notes, tear pages out if you want (Gosh, you're tough on books, aren't you?) you might be interested in How To Cook Like Your Grandmother, 2nd edition, Illustrated. Or to learn your way around the kitchen, check out Starting From Scratch: The Owner's Manual for Your Kitchen.