If you’re fortunate enough to have more springtime garden bounty than you can eat and share with neighbors, don’t let it go to waste! Here are some ideas for preserving extras of a high-yield spring favorite: chives
- 2 cups chopped chives: regular, garlic or a combination
- 1 or 2 whole, dried, hot chili peppers
- ½ T. whole allspice
- ½ T. whole peppercorns
- 2 cups white distilled vinegar
- Additional chive stalks
- 3 or 4 chive blossoms (optional)
Place chopped chives, peppers, ginger and peppercorns in a glass (not metal) jar or bowl.
Heat vinegar to just below boiling point. Pour over chive mixture. Cover bowl or jar with plastic wrap and fasten with a rubber band. (Do not use foil or a metal lid; it will react with the vinegar). Place in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Allow vinegar to steep at room temperature for two to three weeks.
Select one or two glass bottles or jars to accommodate 2 cups total. Use containers that have either corks or plastic (not metal) caps or lids. Sterilize containers by inverting them in a pan with a few inches of boiling water in it; boil 5 minutes.
Pour vinegar through a mesh strainer to remove solids. Discard solids; line strainer with a coffee filter and pour the vinegar through again into a glass pitcher or large measuring cup with a pour lip.
Place long chive stalks and chive flowers in bottle or jar. Pour vinegar over. Cap or cork tightly and label. Sprinkle on cooked vegetables, add to meat marinades and use in salad dressings. Makes one pint
Because of their high water content, chives can be difficult to dry successfully; they often mold first. Instead, preserve their piquant flavor and vivid, green color by freezing them to enjoy all year long in egg dishes, dips and spreads, cheese sauces, fish and potato dishes, and soups and stews.
- Harvest: Cut chives one inch above ground level; don’t simply cut the tips as this inhibits the plant’s growth. Discard bruised, shriveled or otherwise damaged stalks.
- Prep: Wash the remaining stalks in cold water. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Use kitchen shears to snip into desired length.
- Package and freeze: Pack herbs into ice-cube trays, filling each cube one-half to two-thirds full. Set trays in the freezer and use a pitcher to top off trays with water.
- Store: When herb-and-water cubes are frozen, remove from trays, place in resealable, plastic pint- or quart-sized freezer bags and stash them in an easy-to-reach place in the freezer. Keep up to one year.
To use frozen chives:
Remove desired amount of cubes from freezer (use frozen herbs in approximately the same proportion as fresh ones). For flavoring soups and stews, simply add frozen chive cubes near the end of your cooking time. For other uses, place cubes in a strainer, and allow to thaw and drain simultaneously. Pat dry with a paper towel.