My clump of chives has exploded into tender green wisps. The fresh growth of chives, a perennial staple in my vegetable garden, marks the beginning of harvest season for me. Chives are the first herb that I preserve each spring.
While I was pulling a few winter weeds and preparing the soil for planting seedlings, I gave this clump of chives a good washing with the garden hose. Only a few minutes later, the chive stalks were dry from the spring breeze and ready to harvest.
Using sharp shears, I cut the chives off at soil level. Each year I leave the centre of the plant, allowing it to continue growing. Cutting it close to the ground makes the next round of growth, easy to re-harvest for summer salads and other uses.
Once I was ready to preserve the chives, I cut the tender stalk away from the woody blossom part. Using a sharp knife, I chopped the chives into small pieces. A dull knife will just rip and tear the chives apart, causing their juices to bleed onto the cutting board.
I love to use dried chives during the winter months to top baked potatoes, add to vegetable dips and salad dressings. To dry chives, set them out in the afternoon sunshine or use a dehydrator on high for about an hour. Once the chives are dried they become quite small so I recommend using a silicone sheet to prevent them from falling through the mesh sheeting.
I was planning on roasting a chicken this evening for supper, so I simply saved the blossom ends of the chives, and used them to build-a-bed on the base of my baking dish. With the addition of organic carrot peelings, a sprouting garlic clove, some onion skin (for flavour and colour) these vegetable scraps will develop a beautiful broth when the chicken is cooked on top of them.
However, the real piece-de-resistance of my chive preserving is the butter 😘
I soften 1 pound of quality salted butter to room temperature and then add 2 cups of chopped chives, 3 cloves of minced garlic and 1/2 tsp of freshly ground pepper. I mixed the butter and additions together to make a creamy delight. This recipe makes two 1/4 pint jars, plus one 1/2 pint jar and a plastic wrapped roll of tasty chive butter. I leave one jar in the fridge, to use up in the next 2-3 weeks, and freeze everything else for future use.
Chive butter can be used to sauté garden vegetables like asparagus, kale or carrots. It’s also excellent to prepare the frying pan for omelets or scrambled eggs. It can also be spread onto toasted bread for bruschetta or a pasta accompaniment. The chive butter wrapped-roll can be sliced into medallions, and placed on hot barbecued steaks or freshly grilled corn. Yum!
Preserve some of your chives today 😃