I have yet to decide whether or not I have a green thumb. When we lived in Cambridge, I tended to a community garden plot. It was a joy to maintain, and its bounty of lush tomatoes, zesty peppers, spirited sunflowers, and tart rhubarb instilled a bit of confidence. Hopes were dashed when we migrated away from the city for the coast, and all of my hearty houseplants shriveled away as if in rejection of their new home.
The garden space carved out beside our house has been touch-and-go, to put it mildly. Last year, it was a treasure trove of spindly weeds, grass, and vines. Work. Young children. Etc. Etc. I never seemed to have the time…and so, it was neglected.
This spring, I vowed to take back the plot. Three days of soil tilling, weed and rock sifting, and vine yanking — we were almost there. Then, we needed to wait out the three-week maturation of baby cottontails we discovered in the mint patch. Once they vacated, I planted a modest amount of herbs and vegetables as well as a pumpkin and strawberry plant, for good measure. We’ll see what takes.
All of this said, there is one permanent resident that never asks for attention—the chive plant. This plant has weathered hurricanes, snowstorms, dry summers, and pretty much anything mother nature has thrown its way. It stands its ground from a hefty pot in the corner of the garden. Every single year, when I spy those thin green wisps reaching upwards from the cavernous depths of the clay pot, I know spring is here. It’s a time for me to get a move on towards rewarding the rest of the land with such interminable growth.
This year I kept a close eye on the chive blossoms, wanting to pay homage to the plant through their harvesting and preserving. As I often make vinaigrettes, a chive vinegar seemed the best tribute. Although my plant didn’t yield enough for this recipe, a friend whose green thumb is admirable, made up the remainder needed, and I’m grateful for her generosity of knowledge and garden treasures.
If you may find white balsamic vinegar, do stash a bottle in your pantry for this recipe. I prefer the slightly sweeter, softer nature to white wine vinegar. Both will suffice for this recipe though, so don’t feel that you need to make a special trip to the market…
Recipe: Chive Blossom Vinegar
2 cups chive blossoms
2 cups white balsamic vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1/2 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
Trim chive blossoms to just under the blossom. Give them a good soak in a large bowl filled with cold water, moving them around with your hands to coax bits of dirt and debris to be on their way. Rinse and soak a couple of times, until the water is clear of dirt (it may be tinted slightly from the blossoms releasing their color). Strain. Spread them on a clean kitchen towel and pat dry.
Meanwhile, pour vinegar into a small saucepan, and place over medium-low heat. Bring to a slow simmer, just a few bubbles, then remove from heat.
Pack blossoms into a clean heat-resistant pint jar. Add peppercorns. Carefully pour vinegar into the jar and stir with a wooden spoon. Allow to cool. Once no longer steaming, seal jar snuggly.
Store at room temperature, away from sunlight, for 3-4 weeks. When ready to use, strain and discard blossoms and peppercorns from the vinegar. Store vinegar in a sealed jar.