Wednesday

How to Make Chive Vinegar


Over at the popular blog Food in Jars, Marisa McClellan has some interesting information about making chive blossom vinegar. I was lucky enough to read her post when a corner of my flowerbed was a riot of delicate chive blossoms, so I gave her recipe a try.

A day in my mixture looks beautiful and smells even better. I didn't follow the directions exactly (I never do). This is my variation with photos. (Please visit Food in Jars for Marisa's original post, and take a look around. Ostensibly her little corner of cyberspace it's about canning, but there are so many wonderful asides and fun ideas it's worth a bookmark, even if you aren't a handy canner -- yet.)

Here's my own chive vinegar recipe. I make vinegars often and just included a few extra ingredients I thought might add something. The measurements are approximate.

Chive Blossom Vinegar

2 1/2 cups chive blossoms
2 1/4 cups apple cider vinegar (I would probably have used white or a flavored blend like maybe raspberry, but apple was all I had on hand. Sometimes that's just the way it goes.)
2 Bay leaves (smallish) I had fresh, but you could use dried, too.
2 allspice berries
10 whole peppercorns

Chive blossoms can harbor tiny beetles and other pests you definitely don't want to pickle for posterity. Harvest the blossoms and give them a cold water bath for ten minutes or so. Then drain them. Repeat the process a couple of times to make sure any freeloaders have exited down the drain. Chive flower heads can be dense, so it may be hard to see insects hiding inside. Better a little extra soaking than a side of flea beetle with your next salad.

After a good soaking, I removed as much excess water as I could in a salad spinner. This is a step Marisa recommends. You'll be surprised at how much water you'll be able to expel with a little centrifugal force. If you don't have a salad spinner, consider buying one. Restaurants use them to prolong the life of salad greens by a few days, and it really works. The pros sometimes call them greens machines.

Fill an empty jar with the flowers and herbs, and then cover the flowers with vinegar and seal the container. My flowers were pretty tightly packed, so I used a wooden skewer to make sure the vinegar soaked everything. I did dislodge a couple of air pockets (which is important). A couple of shakes were helpful, too.

I like the idea of making the jar more attractive by leaving the chives in place.  My plan is to let this batch of vinegar cure and then strain it off. Then I'll top the chives off with vinegar again -- two batches for the price of one. (That's why I used quite a few more blossoms than I strictly needed.)

Place the mixture in a warm, dark spot for a couple of weeks to cure. Shake it every couple of days or so.

I started to see the vinegar change color pretty quickly. You can see by the picture that the jar and its contents look very pretty today. The vinegar smells wonderful already: oniony with just a hint of a garlicky undertone. I know that the chives will turn white vinegar a beautiful, rich pink color.  I'm curious to know what it will do with a vinegar that is already tinted.


Marisa and her readers suggest using chive flower vinegar in:

  • Mustard making
  • Oil and vinegar salad dressings
  • Soups (to add acidity)
  • Three bean salad

I also like the idea of sprinkling it over fried fish instead of malt vinegar and using it in refrigerator pickle making. It would probably make a very nice ingredient in a marinade, too. Thanks Marisa!

Oh, and don't use all your chive flowers for vinegar. Save some for seed, and keep some to add to salad and to use as a fun garnish. As edible flowers go, chives blossoms are aromatic and make a wonderful display when used with citrus like lemon wedges and orange slices.

Saturday

Cinco de Mayo and Kentucky Derby Day Today - So Much to Celebrate

Cinco de Mayo and Kentucky Derby Day together in one day is an occasion to celebrate! The employment news may be discouraging (again) and the economy might be showing signs of sagging, but it's the weekend at last! Whether you're making a batch of Pico de Gallo, some peel and eat shrimp, a masterful margarita, cilantro salsa or a mint julep for the occasion, do something special.

I have some recipes below that will add fresh zest to your weekend:

Mint Julep Recipe
Making Peel and Eat Shrimp
Pico De Gallo
Killer Margarita Recipe
Magnificent Mint Mojito
Cilantro Salsa

If you love the idea of making fresh salsa but think it's too tough getting the peels off all those tomatoes, think again. Peeling a tomato is super easy. This quick tutorial will show you how: How to Peel a Tomato

Get back in the kitchen and have some fun! There's nothing like chopping a bunch or cilantro or smashing a clove of garlic to show the world you're in charge -- of dinner, anyway.

Oh, the Paul Simon song "One Trick Pony" has some of the best horse related lyrics I've ever heard.  They're poetry. Take a look at them in honor of Derby Day:  One Trick Pony lyrics

Tuesday

Small Space Gardening

I wanted to touch base with everyone.  The weather is getting warmer here, and I can see this is going to be a big year for pruning and weeding the garden (peonies, roses, holly, comfrey, lilacs, hedges).  I'm getting behind in my landscape maintenance chores, which is a bear, especially when it means the climbing roses are staking a claim to just about everything they can reach (which is a lot). Their thorns are fierce, and every year I swear I'll dig them up, only to be beguiled by their flowers and fragrance for one more season.  I have permanent scars on my arms from those devilish darlings!

Well, I'm in the middle of a couple of writing projects that have been keeping me busy and out of the sunlight -- sadly. I do have something useful to share, though. The folks over at Savvi published one of my blog posts about small space gardening solutions.  I like the post because it has lots of practical video and slideshow links that will give you good information about vertical gardening, square-foot gardening, upside down gardening and more.  If you have a second, give it a look see.  Oh, the Savvi site is a savings portal -- kind of like Coupon Mom meets Ebates. It might be worth a couple of minutes, too.

Enjoy the post:  Small Space Gardening