April and May means time for chives! This well mannered member of the Allium family is related to onions and garlic, and is such a lovely culinary herb to have around. It’s not often used as a medicinal herb, but is mildly diuretic and, in my experience, can be soothing for coughs in the same manner as onions or garlic. It's a perennial, so it's perfect for edible landscaping, too.
With our mild weather, I can usually harvest chives well into winter, but the real season to celebrate chives comes with the spring. That’s when this little plant blooms, and the adorable purple pom poms are a can’t-miss kitchen opportunity.
One of my first experiences with chives led me to realize that not everyone had herbs growing in their backyards. My mother sent me to school with chives on Stone Soup Day. I think I was supposed to bring onions, but we were out.
My teachers were impressed. I was confused. Didn’t everyone have chives? It’s really hard to kill chives, and they are easier to grow than onions or garlic. Every first grader knows that!
No. No, they don’t.
The Stone Soup was really good.
Of course, I continue using chives in soups, and in eggs and salads, whenever I am lucky enough to have this plant in my garden, and it’s almost always a conversation starter if it’s a dish I’m sharing. When I want a real springtime show stopper, though (and one that’s wicked easy, too!), I go with chive butter. Here's how I make it!
10-12 chive flowers
1 stick of butter (4oz)
How to Make
First, you will need to acquire a handful of fresh chive flowers. I recommend spending a few moments loitering and smelling the flowers- they smell like honey and garlic. It’s an unusual fragrance, and actually quite lovely. Ants think so, too. They love chive nectar. If you find ants, give the flowers a gentle shake and then drop them into a bowl. The ants will abandoned ship fairly quickly.
Next it’s time to pick apart the flowers. You could do the whole “he loves me, he loves me not,” routine, except everyone knows that’s for daisies. Also, if you look closely at a chive flower, you’ll see that it is actually made up of many smaller flowers, each one on a tiny green stem. So you will be there for a while if you try to pick them off one at a time. Take a good pinch and give it a gentle twist and pull to separate many of the florets all at once.
Place the florets into a bowl while you work. Be careful to look for bugs. I found an inchworm and a spider in mine. I'm sorry! Bugs happen in the garden. It's really not a good excuse to avoid making this recipe though. It's very easy to make sure your butter remains bug-free. Bugs don't want to end up in your butter any more than you want them to be there. The easiest way to spot them is to set down the bowl of flower confetti on a table or counter and watch for movement. Pick out the offenders and proceed to the next step.
See? No bugs. It just takes a second to double check. Personally, I like working outside, and this batch is just for us so I whipped it up on the patio. Who else has fond memories of snapping beans and doing kitchen prep work on a front porch? If you're opposed to outdoor food prep or making it to share outside of the family, you might want to use your kitchen.
Next, cut the butter stick into pieces and dump them in the bowl on top of the flowers. Give it a gentle shake to coat the butter with the petals. You could skip this step and go on to the next, but I find the flowers are more evenly distributed in the finished butter when I do this.
Transfer the flowered butter to a zip top baggie and squish away. The heat from your hands will make everything extra melty.
Once everything is combined to your liking, use a table knife to smoosh blobs of chive petal butter into a cute mold. This is the one that I used, but this one would also be perfect!
One stick of butter probably won't fill the whole mold. That's ok. Just fill as much as you can and then put the molds into the fridge for about 15 minutes or until the butter has hardened again. Once the butter is cold, pop the chive butter blossoms out and store them in a glass canning jar until you’re ready to use. See how pretty they are?
Try a pat of chive blossom butter on baked potatoes, veggies (especially corn on the cob!) or bread. Anything that benefits from butter and a touch of onion or garlic. Chives falls somewhere in between, sort of a rich, mellow onion that won’t make you cry, or maybe a sweet, mild garlic.
Have fun impressing everyone with this easy, gorgeous herbal butter! It will add an extra touch of something special to your springtime table. Definitely one of the most elegant and easy ways to add seasonal herbs to your kitchen!
All the best,