21 Jun 2016

Ch-ch-ch-chive talking

chive flower

I love that the rain has made all the flowers bloom spectacularly, especially the purple pompom flowers of chives - they look so good against the green leaves and the bees adore them.  Such is my admiration for this noble herb that I planted a clump in my 'drought' border (the hose doesn't reach there) among perennials, grasses and alpines - to be looked at, not eaten.

The other clump sits, appropriately, in my herb bed where it's currently flowering prolifically.  Every plant (not just chives) is genetically predisposed to perpetuate itself which is why it wants to flower and thus set seed. To thwart my chive into flowering for longer, I deadhead as soon as the flowers start to fade so that new flowers are coming up all through the summer to delight my bee visitors.

The petals of the flowers can be eaten and taste, rather obviously, like sweet onions.  Just pick the individual bulbils off the head and scatter over a salad - with other edible petals, if that's your thing.  For a simple lunch, I like to chop the leaves into an omelette (add cheese as well if you like) and scatter the petals over the top as a garnish - delicious, quick and more sustaining than a packet of cheese and onion crisps!

Of course, all this ch-ch-ch-chive talking is so I can introduce an intriguing dressing that I came across recently - chive flowers with honey and cider vinegar. (Thank you omnipresent Swedish furniture company, recipe below.)  It allegedly pairs well with rocket and mustardy oriental leaves like mizuna and tat soi. Alternatively, it can be used to dress a warm potato salad or pan-fried bok choy, spinach or cabbage.  Mmm, I like the sound of that! (I'm a big fan of eating my greens.)

I haven't tried it yet as I've been on a juice diet to boost my energy levels for the last eight days but am excitedly anticipating making this dressing tomorrow evening for my first salad in a week!


Honey + Chive Flower Dressing:
(Makes 75ml)
10 fresh chive flowers
1 Tbsp honey (a light honey is best, eg blossom or acacia)
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp olive oil or cold pressed rapeseed oil
Sea salt + freshly ground black pepper

Put all ingredients in a blender and whizz to an even texture. Season with salt and pepper. Pop into a nice jug and use. Simples.


Why grow chives?  Apart from being a very useful kitchen herb, chives stimulate the appetite and, by extension, digestive juices. Useful for anyone feeling under the weather and less like eating.  Also, chives have antioxidant properties (great for zapping those free radicals) and the leaves are mildly antiseptic.

On a final note, because chives are hardy perennials they die down in winter so here's a couple of ways to have some for the colder months.

Herb butter - mix 4 tbsp of snipped chives into 100g unsalted butter.  Beat well to mix, add 1 tsp lemon juice. Freeze and use within 3 months.  Delicious on a jacket potato.

Ice cubes - but not with water! This is something I would never have thought of but read about in 'Jekka's Herb Cookbook'.  Cut chives late morning, nice green leaves only, wash and dry on kitchen paper. Snip the leaves into individual sections of the ice-cube tray; once full, put the tray into the freezer - do not add water! Freeze for 48 hours.  When that time's up, transfer to freezer bags. Get the bags ready as the cubes will defrost rapidly, take the tray from the freezer and immediately pop the chive cubes into the freezer bag and return to the freezer straight away. These portion sizes are ideal for a winter omelette.

Personally, I'm loving the idea of chive ice-cubes - hope this post has been useful to a few folk!


25 comments:

  1. Some great tips there Caro, I shall try deadheading them this year. They never fail me, and I really like to use the flowers in salad as well, it makes it look so pretty. CJ xx

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    1. Thanks, CJ. Deadheading is one of my garden tasks (along with weeding!); it takes a chunk of time but the rewards are worth it - particularly with Geums, they respond well to having the spent flower stems removed and often reflower well into autumn. C x

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  2. You've got me singing Caro - just as well you can't hear. Chives have fabulous flowers and it would be worth growing the plant for its ornamental value alone. I was really surprised by the strength of the taste when I first nibbled the flowers. I like the idea of a honey and chive dressing. Hope that you enjoy that salad.

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    1. Haha! I wondered if anyone would pick up on the tune running through my head! I love the flowers (and, indeed, all alliums) but especially when they're edible too! And, yes, I can confirm the salad was delicious!

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  3. The salad dressing does sound nice, I shall have to try that soon xx

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    1. Don't forget to deadhead your chives as well, Jo - so if you enjoy the dressing, you can go back for more! Plus the bees will love you if the flowers keep coming!

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  4. I use the ice-cube-tray method for Basil pesto, but I have not done it with Chives. Might give it a go, because having "fresh" Chives in Winter sounds appealing.

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    1. Oooh, I didn't know that I could freeze pesto - I'll definitely be giving that a try. Thanks, Mark! I think it's worth experimenting with freezing all sorts of herbs so that we don't go without in the winter.

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  5. We have lots of chives at the allotment, they have self seeded themselves prolifically. I have never tried to tasting the flowers so maybe I should. The ice cube idea is very interesting. I wonder whether it would work for other herbs too.

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    1. Ah yes, I remember having to pick out dozens of seedlings last year when I didn't deadhead in time. I think that this method of freezing without water may well work with other leaves that would otherwise turn to mush on defrosting. Worth a go, let me know how you get on if you try it?

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  6. Just got back from Yorkshire, where there was much in the way of chives in evidence in the gardens we visited, where they were used as a great edging for borders. Just one of the ideas I'm going to steal from my holiday :)

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    1. That's a great idea, VP. I think I saw similar at Capel Manor in the Which? trial gardens but had forgotten about it until now. It would look great and be cheaper than lavender! Thanks for the idea!

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  7. I use chives in the ornamental garden as well as in the herb and kitchen garden. They are incredibly useful plants. I like the sound of the chive flower dressing - I will give it a go. I hope the juice diet has worked its magic.

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    1. Glad I'm not alone in dotting herbs into the ornamental garden beds - thyme makes a great edging plant as well, btw. The juice diet has been great, pure nutrition feeding me with the result that I have more energy, sleep better (not that that was a problem!) and, bonus, have lost a few pounds! :o)

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  8. Great post-great sounding salad dressing. And I've never used the flowers nor have I dead-headed. Next trip to the allotment I will put matters right.

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    1. Pleased that I've inspired you, Sue! This will keep the bees happy (or more happy), they love the alliums!

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  9. my chives are hibernating for the winter, so you're making me really miss them! i must rmember to freeze them next season as you suggest. I have them growing throughout my ornamental garden too - the flowers are so pretty!

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    1. You'll have to make a note in your diary for when your chives pop up again. I find that I forget a lot of the good ideas that I read about in blogs unless I write it down somewhere - maybe in a recipe book?

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  10. Those are some great recipes. We grew chives in our old garden under the apple tree. Their heads were quite small and so different to the ones we inherited in our new garden. I wonder if there is different varieties or they were just stunted under the trees. Sarah x

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    1. I've noticed that my chives are much bigger and more floriferous this summer, Sarah. I think that the rainfall has given them a good boost so I'd guess that your old chives were deprived of water in the rainshadow of the apple tree, plus they do love sunshine! Good that you have better chives now though. As far as I know there aren't any significantly different cultivars ...

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  11. The chive cubes are a brilliant idea!

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    1. I thought you might like that - easy winter herbs. Great!

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  12. Your posts are always useful and informative. I love chives too and eat them with everything, loved the cube idea, I'll give that a go. I haven't eaten the flowers before but shall now.xxx

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    1. Not always, but thank you anyway! :o) I do like passing on a good idea when I come across one so really pleased that this tip has been useful. C xx

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  13. A lovely fresh chives dressing! I love it too! :) Yummm!

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Caro x

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