10 July 2013

Five Things to do with Chive Flowers

Having been over-run with chives earlier in the year, we are now over-run with chive flowers.  It's a good problem to have, so much so it isn't really a problem: for starters, the flowers are awful pretty, so they make us happy whether we use them or not.  But even better, they are edible and we like eating flowers.  Admittedly, there is a myriad of ways to use the flowers, but here are our five favourites. 

Any suggestions?  Fefe says she is tired of chive flowers, but caribougrrl is still looking for more ways to eat them.  Leave us a comment!

ONE:  Chive Flower Mayonnaise

The thing that makes chive flower mayonnaise is that although you make mayonnaise as usual, you add chive flowers to it.  Sometimes simple ideas are the best.

2 egg yolks
3 chive flower heads
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp hot mustard powder
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 c. sunflower oil

Take the eggs out of the fridge well before making the mayo; you want the yolks to be room temperature or slightly warmer.  Choose big full chive flowers, rinse them off, and get rid of any bugs or debris in them.  Once dry (go ahead and help this along by rolling gently in a clean tea towel), pull the individual flowers out of the head.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks, chive flowers, salt, mustard and vinegar until combined and smooth.  The next part, the bit that really makes the mayonnaise, is tedious and boring but very simple... unless you lack patience or stamina, you can't really go wrong.  You will find lots of advice for ways to make mayonnaise with a blender or food processor, but in my experience you will get your best results by hand whisk.  As an added bonus, painstakingly hand-whisking oil and eggs into mayo gives you the opportunity to experience a small miracle and really puts you in touch with food production in a personal way.  This is a highly satisfying job.  

Right then, ready?  Add oil a drop or two at a time, whisking until fully incorporated (no liquidy oil spots visible).  Keep adding a drop or two at a time until it emulsifies quickly and easily.  Take a moment to stretch out your hand and forearm, and start adding the oil in a slow thin stream, whisking constantly.  If you start to see a slick of oil on the mixture, stop adding oil and whisk until incorporated.  Take occasional breaks as needed to rest or stretch your arm.  Or rope someone else into helping.  Keep adding oil slowly until you get the desired thickness.  This is not aioli, don't make it runny.  If you come to the end of the cup of oil and it's too thin, add more oil.

Transfer to a clean jar and store in the refrigerator.  This will keep only a couple of weeks, so use it!  

Variation -  Fermented Chive Flower Mayonnaise:  If you want to make a mayo that lasts for months rather than weeks, add some whey and lacto-ferment it.  I find it pretty successful taste-wise; the texture is not quite as nice, but the trade-off is preservation.  That means you can make a double or triple batch after making an angel food cake or meringues to use up the yolks, even if you don't have immediate plans for the mayo.  Here's what you do:  drain some yogurt with active bacteria in it to get the whey (the liquid that drains off).  Add 3 tbsp of whey to the recipe (1-1/2 tbsp per egg yolk) and reduce the vinegar to 1 tsp.  Mix the whey in with the other ingredients before adding the oil.  The mixture will take more than a cup of oil with the additional liquid, so just keep adding until it feels right.  Transfer to a clean jar with a lid, store at room temperature in a dark place (like a cupboard) for 7-12 hours.  I know, it's counter-intuitive to leave mayo at room temperature, but that's what you do; this is when the good probiotic bacteria culture the mayo and increase the shelf-life. You need to let them do their growing magic so they can prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria.  

Among other uses, chive flower mayonnaise is a great dressing for summer potato salad and an excellent topping for cod and crab burgers.

TWO and THREE:  Chive Flower Vinegar and Quick-pickled Chive Flowers

Make Wholesome Ireland's Chive Flower Vinegar.  Infusing white vinegar with chive flowers turns it a fantastic shade of pinky-purple, gives the vinegar a subtle but undeniably present onion-y chive-y flavour.  The vinegar adds some charm to your salad dressings and I suspect is delightful on fish & chips.  As a bonus:  Follow the full instructions and when you strain the vinegar, reserve the quick-pickled chive flowers and eat them too.  Fefe Noir says that, sprinkled with salt, the pickled chive flowers are just like strong pickled onions: perfect with a punchy cheese.

FOUR:   Chive Flower Pizza Dough

Use the recipe for dandelion flower pizza dough, substituting pulled-apart chive flower for the dandelion fluff. The chive flowers are less subtle so you might want to reduce the volume (or not, they're very tasty) or use whole grain flour (or not and keep the chive flowers highly visible).  What more can we say?  Makes a really good pizza crust. 

FIVE:  Chive Flower Felafel

Add chive flowers and chives (or substitute for part or all of the parsley) in your favourite felafel recipe.  Mmmmm...

Chive Flower Mayonnaise: Two Variations on Punk Domestics


  1. I'm delighted you like the vinegar. It is fantastic just as you say!

    1. Thanks for hopping over to check our attempt out. It's a great vinegar... I'm looking forward to trying it in some marinades.

  2. Love it! I must go plant chives at once!

    1. I can't imagine YOU not having chives already!


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