Cook what you Grow: Chives

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CHIVES are an “ornamental edible” – perfect for edging a path with their bright green leaves, topped with pinky/purple pom-pom flowers.

Like nasturtium flowers, it won’t be long before the more well-heeled supermarkets start to sell them at a ridiculous price to add to salads (good luck with that if you have a house full of teenage boys or troglodytes).

If you’re not careful to dead head, they self-seed quickly.

To me, this is an advantage – a free crop, however, they will root anywhere. There’s a patch of path in my garden where the kids’ sandpit used to live.

It’s been gravelled over since them, so a more impoverished soil you couldn’t get. Huge clumps have established themselves and I hack them down at their peak.

Chives don’t dry like most herbs – they’re best frozen.

Cut the leaves down to the ground, then remove the thick flower stems (they’re tough) or yellowing leaves. Wash and pat dry. Holding a handful of leaves, use scissors to cut them into 1cm lengths (much faster than chopping).

If you only use small amounts, pack them into ice cube trays, or into takeaway-style cartons if you’re using them for soups or stir-fries.

You can tip out the frozen chives “ice cubes” and store in a freezer bag when frozen.

•If you’re short on freezer space, blitz in a food processor to make a puree and freeze in small containers.

•Chives make lovely butters and this one is wonderful to make garlic bread with, or used on new potatoes.

Ingredients:

8oz (200g) butter, softened

2 small cloves garlic, minced, or more to taste

3 tbsp chopped chives

Cream ingredients together in a bowl, cover and store in fridge for three hours before use. Will keep in fridge for several days. It freezes too, but split into small portions.