If you enjoy the subtly savoury onion flavour of chives, you might be interested to learn that you can eat the flowers too. Find out how to use these pretty purple-pink flowers to add colour and flavour to your cooking, along with tips on how to prep and store them.
What are chive blossoms?
The chive is the smallest member of the allium genus of plants, which includes onions, garlic and leeks. It is often described as having a flavour similar to onion with a hint of garlic, but somewhat milder than its more pungent relatives. It has green, blade-like stems that can be diced and added to dishes that require subtle flavouring.
In addition to its edible stems, the chive also produces a small, purple-pink flower that grows at the end of its stems. These flowers tend to bloom in late spring through early summer, and have an aromatic, slightly garlicky scent. They have a spherical, puffball shape, made up of many small florets growing outwards from the stem, like a dandelion clock.
Can you eat them?
Chive blossoms are edible and actually very tasty. They have a similar flavour to chive stems, but slightly milder, and with earthy notes. Their delicate flavour means they can be eaten raw without overpowering the dish. They are often added to salads for a splash of colour, or used as a garnish
Eating chive flowers may also provide certain health benefits. They are nutrient-dense, which means they are low in calories, but high in nutrients. There is no official nutritional information for chive flowers, but research suggests they are a good source of vitamins C and E, as well as antioxidants. They are usually only eaten in very small amounts, however, so any benefits are likely to be minimal.
Humans have been enjoying the subtle flavours and vibrant colours of edible flowers for thousands of years, and there are more varieties than you might think. Find out more with our A to Z of edible flower facts.
There are several ways to store chive blossoms. The simplest way is to place them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, where they should stay fresh for up to a week. They can be frozen for up to two months, but they will need to be frozen inside a protective casing of water or oil to protect the delicate petals and retain their flavour.
Making pink chive blossom vinegar is also popular right now. It’s a great way to preserve the flavour of chive blossoms, and looks adorable kept in pretty glass bottles. If you want to try your hand at making some, you’ll find a link in the recipe section.
How to prep chive blossoms
The main challenge when prepping chive blossoms is to wash them thoroughly to make sure there are no tiny bugs lurking in between those intricate florets. Dunk each blossom into a bowl of cool water several times, swirling them around to wash away any hidden nasties. Dry the blossoms carefully, using a salad-spinner or simply allowing them to air-dry. Once your blossoms are clean and dry, separate them out into florets by gently pulling each one away from the centre of the head, until you have a little pile of pretty purple confetti.
Recipes using chive blossoms
There are so many things you can do with chive blossoms. They can be used to brighten up salads and crudité platters, and go particularly well with egg, pasta and potato dishes. They can be fried like zucchini flowers, made into pretty pink vinegar or mixed with goat’s cheese for a fresher, lighter take on cheese and onion.
Chive blossom infused vinegar: this simple recipe from All Recipes shows you how to make your own chive blossom vinegar. The blossoms will turn the vinegar a beautiful vibrant pink, and infuse it with a savoury, herbal flavour that tastes great in salad dressings and marinades.
Pan-fried chive flowers: This simple side dish from All Recipes is pretty and delicious, with a little garlic to enhance the natural flavour of the chive blossoms. Serve with meat or fish.
Goat’s cheese scalloped potatoes with chive blossoms: This decadent, creamy side dish from Epicurious deserves a show-stopping garnish, and the slightly oniony flavour of chive blossoms complements the goat’s cheese and shallots perfectly, while adding a splash of colour.