Not just pretty little puffballs.
Chive flowers are edible flowers with a flavor that's as delicate as they look. Here's how to use them in all kinds of recipes.
What are Chive Flowers?
You're probably already familiar with the long, slender chive leaves you can buy packaged at the market. But unless you're growing your own, you might not know that when springtime starts sauntering towards summer, chive plants (Allium schoenprasum) send up hollow stems called scapes, and at the end of each scape is a bud that develops into a flower.
Now comes the magic. Each chive flower is made up of a cluster of florets. Free the florets from the flower head and you get a multitude of tiny blossoms ready to elevate the look and taste of every dish they grace.
How do they taste?
Chives come from the same allium family as onions so they do fall into that flavor profile. But being the delicate ballerinas they are, their taste is more like a whisper of onion. That means they're mild enough to eat uncooked.
Where can you find them?
If you don't grow chives or know someone who does, you might be able to find them at a farmers' market in May and June. Grab them when you see them, because their growing season is way too short.
How to Use Chive Flowers
Here are a few tips and ideas to get you started.
1. Make sure they're organically grown. Like any other herbs you eat, you want them to be free of pesticides and contaminants.
2. Wash before using. I grow lots of chives in my organic garden, and I know from experience that the flowers can house the tiniest bugs imaginable. To flush them out, just plunge the flowers into water several time and swish them around. Repeat a few times and pat dry.
3. Separate the flowers into florets. Using your fingers, gently pull the florets away from the center of the flower head. Some florets may come away attached to a tiny stem of their own, but that just makes them more adorable.
After you've separated the florets, you can use them to great effect in lots of different ways:
- Sprinkle them over egg recipes and savory crepes to give them a pop of color and texture.
- Gently mash them into softened butter or cream cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to let the flavors meld.
- If you're making a potato salad flavored with chive leaves, crumble a few flower heads in there as well.
- Add a couple of tablespoons of chive florets to a savory biscuit recipe.
- Mash chopped chive leaves into deviled egg fillings and garnish with chive florets.
- Toss them into all kinds of salad recipes.
- Add them to salad dressings.
- Use them to garnish soups.
This delicate chive vinegar is very easy to make and gets even more rosy colored after a couple of weeks. Strain out the flowers and store the vinegar or give it away as a gorgeous homemade food gift.