You can make this fancy herbal vinegar at home using zero fancy equipment.
It happens towards the end of spring in garden plots across the land when common chive plants suddenly bust out with little globes of lavender-hued blossoms. Cooks in the know snatch them up to garnish appetizers, egg dishes, and all kinds of salads with their mildly onion-y, delicately beautiful florets.
If you don’t grow your own chives or know someone who does, don’t despair; you can often find the blossoms in colorful bunches at farmers’ markets in May and June.
And yes, I have a garden full of chive blossoms right now. So this year, in addition to using them in everything from butter to biscuits, I decided to stretch a bit and make chive blossom herbal vinegar. I’m here to tell you it’s ridiculously easy and the results are drop-dead gorgeous. Delicious goes without saying.
Making the chive vinegar takes 10 minutes tops; the only hard part is waiting for it to be ready to use. Luckily, this warm steeping method makes the wait time fairly short; in just a few days I had a batch of blush-colored, chive-flavored vinegar for a summer’s worth of salads. And did I mention it’s a whole lot cheaper to make your own than to buy fancy flavored vinegar? I’m mentioning it now.
2-3 dozen chive blossom heads, preferably organic, enough to lightly pack a pint jar
1 ½ cups Champagne vinegar, white wine vinegar, or rice wine vinegar (I used a full 12.7 ounce bottle of organic Champagne vinegar)
1 sterilized pint glass jar with sterilized glass or screw-top lid
1. Wash chive blossoms by holding them upside down by the stems and dunking them into a deep bowl of cold water. Swish them around to dislodge tiny bugs (you’d be surprised) and bits of soil. Pour out the water and repeat two or three times. If a couple of blossom heads break off, no worries; you can still use them.
2. Snip or pinch off each blossom head at its base where it meets the stem. Give them a couple of swift rides in a salad spinner, or pat them dry with paper towels. The idea is to remove as much excess water as possible. Fill your pint jar with blossoms.
3. Pour the vinegar into a small saucepan and warm it over medium low heat until it’s quite hot but not boiling.
4. Pour the warmed vinegar over the blossoms, screw on the lid, and store the jar away from heat and light. Check on it in a couple of days; the vinegar might already be infused with enough chive flavor for your taste. Otherwise, let it steep for 1 or 2 weeks for the flavor to fully mature. After 2 weeks, strain out the blossoms and store the vinegar in a clean glass jar or bottle. The vinegar will take on the delicate color and subtle onion flavor of the chives. You lucky person.
Keep the vinegar stored away from heat and light for up to 6 months. But really, you should use it up before summer’s gone. How about making a lovely vinaigrette salad dressing?
Makes 1 cup
¾ cup olive oil
¼ cup chive vinegar (that you made!)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
Dried herbs (optional)
Snips of fresh chives (optional)
Pour everything into an empty jar, screw on the lid, and shake vigorously to emulsify. Here, this nifty how-to demos the technique.
Chive blossom season is fairly short, so I’ve already started making several batches of vinegar to give away. So pretty, so easy. And now you know how to do it, too.
All photos by Vanessa Greaves