It’s been a busy few weeks. No matter how busy the weeks get I try and continue to incorporate blogging into my life. I try not to let all the craziness of life cause me to ignore the blog, or let it sit for more than a few days without a post. It’s just my way of keeping myself disciplined. But really, it has been busier than usual: Mother’s Day, tons of birthdays, a wedding, old friends coming up to New York (from all over the damn world it seems; but really just Hawaii & Texas) and now Memorial Day. All of that meant lots of late nights, lots of food- particularly fried (Chip Shop!)… and lots of beer. I kind of need to recover from it all a bit before Monday. And I think the best way to do that is spend some time outside, in the sun, getting fresh air while I prepare for Memorial Day, and watering plants & gardening. Oh, and drinking water. Gallons of water.
I’ve seen chive blossom vinegar in many places all over the internet for a few years now, this year being no exception. It intrigued me, but never enough to try it. I kept wondering what the hell I’d use it for. Plus, my chives never gave me more than three or four, maybe five or six blossoms a season. But this year? It exploded! Hundreds (okay well not really hundreds, but a lot) of pretty purple blossoms burst onto the scene in early April, much to my surprise.
Our extremely mild winter caused my chives to come back from their hibernation far earlier, and also this year they’re larger than ever. And the blossoms are so pretty, I usually just like looking at them in the garden until they die and I cut ‘em off. But honestly, what’s life without a little experimentation? So being that I had so many, and a few extra jars laying around, I thought why not try it. Plus, I’ve been more into infusions lately. I was planning on some rosemary-garlic infused olive oil, so why not make some infused vinegar too.
You don’t have to use the blossoms in vinegar. You can cook with them too, or use them in salads. Just do a Google and you’ll see. The Kitchn has a great piece on using them, too. However, I chose to use roughly half of my blossoms in a vinegar infusion. The other half ended up in my kitchen in a jar of water, as if they were a bouquet. Kept the chive part fresh and close at hand, too.
Chive vinegar is regular white vinegar, or white wine vinegar, that’s infused with chive blossoms. Technically, you could use whatever vinegar you wanted, but I think (and apparently this is the general consensus among chive vinegar makers) using a clear vinegar is aesthetically best. That way you can see the true pink color that comes from the blossoms, and also the jar looks pretty while it’s “infusing.” But really, to each his own. To make it, here’s what you do: You cut the blossoms off your chives. Rinse them thoroughly in cool water, making sure any grit, dirt, sand or unwanted little tenants clear out. It’s best, I find, to fill a large bowl with cool water and put them in there, swirling them around gently, rather than just rinsing them. Dry them either in a salad spinner, or air dry them on paper towels. Place the blossoms in a jar or bottle about ½ to ¾ full. Pour in your vinegar to fill the container. Then let it sit in a dark/cool place for two weeks, then strain it, removing the flowers. What you end up with is a beautiful pink vinegar that’s mildly onion-y in flavor. It’s perfect in vinaigrettes & salads, great in macaroni or potato salad, and it’d probably make fairly interesting refrigerator pickles.
Chives, posing with chives! Brilliant!
I made this on May 13th, and here’s a little photo quadrangle of its journey from then ’til the day I made the potato salad. I was pretty amazed at how in just a matter of less than 12 hours, the vinegar was already obviously pink. And then it just got pinker & pinker! It’s so pretty, really. It reminds me of those bottles of day-glo highlighter liquid teenagers used to make years ago to use under blacklight (am I showing my age?), except prettier, edible & much more useful. And totally less ’90′s.
Day eight was a rainy, miserable day, so the picture sucks. Of course, the two weeks is the recommended time, but you can use it even after a few days. It won’t be as strong, but you’ll definitely get a chive flavor. I used mine after about 8 or 9 days and it was plenty strong. I also dried the blossoms I removed from the vinegar and saved them in another jar to use in egg salad. But that’s a whole ‘nother post for another day. Anyway, speaking of salad… I was so inspired by the beautiful jar of pink vinegar, that I decided to use it to make some chive-y potato salad. And then, I thought, why not share it on the blog? ‘Cause I’m awesome, that’s why. And also because Monday here in the good ol’ U. S. of A. is Memorial Day, which is a big barbecue day which pretty much kicks off the summer and potato salad is a barbecue/summer staple. Memorial Day means way more than just that, of course, but like 4th of July, Americans don’t like holidays they can’t get a day off for or drink to celebrate. In terms of the salad: keep in mind, if you’re not using chive vinegar, the flavor will be different. I’d substitute by using white wine vinegar & add a sliced shallot and an extra tablespoon of chopped chives. Or, you can just make your own chive blossom vinegar. Or… if you have no chive blossoms but you have some chives, just cut some chives up and put them in a jar of vinegar for a week or so. The vinegar will definitely end up with a chive flavor, though perhaps not the same as with the blossoms and definitely not pink.
Honestly- potato salad (and macaroni salad) is so easy to make, why go and buy it at a deli or supermarket? You’ve probably got most of the necessary ingredients right at hand, and what you don’t have you can always substitute other things for. Or omit them totally. Do yo’ thaaaang.
CHIVE BLOSSOM VINEGAR POTATO SALAD
- 2 pounds russet potatoes, boiled (& peeled, if desired) and cubed (equals roughly 8 medium-sized potatoes)
- 4-5 tablespoons chive blossom vinegar, depending on taste
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 3 chopped hard-boiled eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ cup chopped celery (I omitted this)
- ¼ cup finely chopped fresh chives
- 1 tablespoon mustard (I used Gulden’s spicy brown, you can use any you like)
- washed chive blossoms, either fresh or dried (for garnish, if desired, the blossoms are edible)
- Toss the potatoes with 2 tablespoons chive vinegar and ½ teaspoon salt in a large bowl.
- In a separate bowl, mix the mayo, chives, mustard, remaining tablespoons vinegar, and sugar thoroughly.
- Add to the potato mixture. Chill until cool. Garnish with whole or torn apart chive blossoms, if you want.
This salad was inhaled. INHALED. Disappeared from the bowl like David Blaine was here. People from all over New York swarmed to my house to taste it. Alright. So… that’s a lie, but I wasn’t lying about it being inhaled. You’d have thought I invented the wheel the way people raved about it. And I find that the more things you make yourself, the more impressed people are with it, and the better your food tastes to them. Once I said I not only grew the chives, but used the blossoms to make infused vinegar and then in turn used that vinegar to make the salad, I was practically crowned the new Martha Stewart. No shit.
This recipe makes a very creamy potato salad, if you prefer a more vinegar-y one, then just alter it to suit your needs by lessening the amount of mayo. Potato salad is a super easy thing to change around. It’s all about taste & preference, there is no wrong. Use any kind of potatoes- from baby reds to Yukon Gold, any kind of mustard (or none), any amount of hard-boiled eggs (or none), any kind of vinegar, etc. So easy! Take out the chives, add dill, add a chopped pickle, whatever. It’s 100% customizable. Same thing with macaroni salad. Just taste it as you go and change things up. There are tons of base recipes on the internet if you’re scared.
Back to the chive vinegar: I think it’s great to have a jar of this around, especially if you’re into making your own salad dressings or vinaigrettes. I’m going to work on a pickle recipe using some of this vinegar as well. My mother wants some to marinate steaks in; she likes vinegar marinated steak. And she probably just wants a jar of pink vinegar to put out on the counter, too, ’cause it’s pretty to look at. And yes, the blossoms themselves are edible too. Try one.