Preserving Flowers that Smell of Honey (Garlic Chive Blossoms)

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The problem with true abundance is that we rarely know what to do with all that we harvested.


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Two or so years ago, I wrote about the flowers of the garlic chive plant (Allium tuberosum), with its flowers that smell of pure honey. Since realising this fact, and having tasted its flowers (which taste of subtle garlic flavour), I have wondered about how I could use these flowers in my cooking. Last year, I stumbled upon a video of chef Sam Black in which he preserved chive blossoms.

I knew I needed to try this. For half a year now, I watered my garlic chive plants, knowing that they would shoot out their flowering stems soon. And now was the time. I have so many plants, true abundance. Throughout the years, I have saved so many seeds that I do not really know what I will do with it all. So, I did not worry about saving the seeds.

In the following post, I will share with you how I preserve these blossoms with the help of chef Sam Black's method of preserving any edible blossom, which you turn into both a crispy topping for salads and an incredibly tasty vinegar that preserves the blossom's fresh taste and smell. So, please follow along as I show you how I preserve these blossoms.

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After Harvesting: Insect Friends

After harvesting all these flowers and blossoms, I found so many insect friends feasting on the pollen. I left many blossoms still in tact and in the garden, and I thus returned them to some of these flowers.

It is incredible how many friends make these flowers their home. My philosophical mind always wonders where they come from, and if I did not plant these plants where they might have ended up. Would they even have existed without these plants?

In any case, I returned them to the other blossoms so that they might feast further, without being disturbed.

Preparing and Preserving the Blossoms

This process is somewhat laborious in the sense that you need to collect the individual flowers. Luckily, the way these blossoms grew, I could easily and quickly cut each individual stem from the main stem. It took me less than 30 minutes to separate all of the blossoms. In the end, I had a mountain of flowers and the whole kitchen smelled of fresh blossoms.

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I loved the mountain of flowers; it had a poetic appearance. My fingers smelled of honey, and my mouth was filled with so many unique flavours. A subtle sweet honey and garlic flavour, the thought of summer and excess heat. I was in my happy place.

I quickly rinsed the flowers, and then I followed chef Black's recipe:


20% salt solution based on the total weight of the flowers.


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| Salted blossoms |

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| Salt |


I forgot about them for two or three days. The salt extracted much of the liquid in the flowers. But there was not too much liquid after the two days. I then drained the flowers, as the next stage was to add vinegar to them...

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We went to a market a while back, and there I found some indigenous Fynbos vinegar. I have no idea how they made it, or what plants they used. But I loved the idea. I add it to some sparkling water and drink it as a refreshing drink.

But now I had the ideal usage for it! I preserved the blossoms in this vinegar solution. I am not 100% of its acid content, so I mixed it with some normal vinegar as well.

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| Vinegar soaked blossoms |

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| Fynbos Vinegar |


I forgot about the vinegar-soaked blossoms for a couple of days. The longer they soak, I would guess, the better. But I would not go for longer than a week though.

After this, I separated the soaked blossoms and the flavorful vinegar.

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| Flavored Vinegar |

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| Soaked Blossoms |


The vinegar can be used immediately. I use it to make salad dressings. My go-to recipe is a couple of teaspoons of vinegar, some wholegrain mustard, and olive oil. This simple recipe goes so far.

Drying the Blossoms

After the blossoms and the vinegar is separated, I still need to try the blossoms. As soon as they are completely dry, and according to Chef Black, they can last for a couple of years in storage. They are preserved, after all.

This takes a couple of days, and we had some rainy weather. So, depending on the weather, they can dry out in a couple of days or even a week. The key thing is to get them as dried out as possible.

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In the end, you are left with an incredibly flavorful condiment or addition to any meal. Even just a single blossom is so tasty! It is a bit salty, and then vinegar-ry, but then also has that subtle sweet honey-and-garlic aftertaste. In fact, it has a strange meaty and umami flavour to it.

I can see how this will go well with even meat, but salads will be the go-to. It is a flavour bomb in the sense that it explodes with so many interesting flavours at once. A little goes a long way.

For the amount of time and effort, the yield is not that impressive. I think in the future, I need to grow even more and pick the blossoms more aggressively. But for now, this experiment worked out pretty well.

I added some of the blossoms to a cheese and egg dish (last photograph below). The pairing worked so well. The subtle and meaty umami flavour it adds to the dish worked so well.

Postscriptum, or Abundance and Care

Few people will experience food and plants which the supermarkets (and even farmer's markets) will not or cannot sell. Few people are lucky to experience garlic chives or dandelion pesto or then salted blossoms.

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With true abundance, we should take care to not be wasteful. Nature does not waste, but in our home gardens, nature does not always have free rein. We have composting that helps us. But sometimes we need to preserve things like these blossoms.

A little salt, a bit of vinegar, and you can also begin to preserve the edible flowers and blossoms in your garden. It takes just a bit of extra care.

For now, happy gardening, happy herbalism, and keep well.

All of the writing in this post is my own. I gained the recipe and idea of preserving the blossoms from chef Black (hyperlinked above). The photographs are also my own, taken with my Nikon D300.

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