By Vanessa Greaves

It happens in late spring and early summer in gardens across the land -- Plain Jane chive plants suddenly burst out with delicate halos of lavender-hued blossoms. Cooks in the know hurry to snip them to garnish appetizers, egg dishes, and all kinds of salads with their mildly onion-y florets. And here's one more use for chive flowers: You can brew this lovely chive-infused vinegar at home using absolutely no fancy equipment. It's heavenly on fresh summer salads, and makes a great handmade gift from your kitchen.

Photo by Vanessa Greaves

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.

Photo by Vanessa Greaves

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.

Here's the easy recipe for Chive Blossom Vinegar, and of course I've got some how-to tips:

  • Use organically grown chive blossoms so you don't get any pesticides in your vinegar.
  • You don't have to break apart the blossom heads -- you can just leave them whole after trimming off the stem. They actually look a lot prettier that way when they're steeping.
  • Dunk and rinse the blossom heads several times to dislodge any soil or tiny bugs.
  • You can use Champagne vinegar, white wine vinegar, or rice wine vinegar for this recipe.
  • When you're heating the vinegar, do NOT let it come to a boil.
  • After steeping the blossoms in the vinegar for a couple of weeks in the fridge, you, strain out the blossoms before pouring the vinegar into sterilized bottles or jars. 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.
Photo by Vanessa Greaves

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.

Chive Vinaigrette

Here's an idea for using your chive vinegar to bring a fresh taste of summer to any salad.
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.


Try these ideas for using fresh chive flowers on favorite summer recipes.