So right now I’m at a food studies workshop at Indiana University/Bloomington, hanging out with a lot of the great food studies academics of our time, and on my first scholar in residence visit!
Recently I’ve been making vinegars from the flowers that have appeared in my garden as the old herbs and brassicas come back to life. Brassicas are collards, kale, cabbage, mustard, turnip greens and the like, and they set out pretty flowers, often yellow, if they have wintered over and are set to seed. I’ve been making chive vinegar which stains a white wine vinegar pink and “perfumes” it with a flowery-oniony scent. Many Southerners–but not me–like vinegar with their greens or as a complement. My thought was–why not amplify that flavor by taking advantage of the collard flowers during their brief stay.
This is one of those posts where I don’t give a precise recipe. My apologies–but I am pressed for time–I have the workshop to attend and–if you are growing your collards to seed–you probably don’t have a lot of time to accomplish this before your flowers go away forever. So bear with me.
White wine vinegar isn’t very expensive–you can find it in most grocery stores. Buy a small bottle. Gather about a half a cup or so of collard flowers from your plants, preferably ones that are not already going to seed–aka have been pollinated and are dying off…Take the flowers and put them in a bowl of cold water for ten minutes and have a strainer ready–you want to gently toss them with water and then strain them to make sure there are no bugs or debris present.
Some people like to heat vinegar to get it “warmed up” and receptive to the peppers or flowers or herbs–I never have. I pop the bottle open, put in about half those flowers–or all–by compacting them and then funnel the white wine vinegar back in, close it up tight and put it in a dark cupboard for a few weeks. You can add a tiny bit of salt if you like, but its not necessary. Have the patience to wait to enjoy this when your fall greens catch a frost and get sweet. This is a pungent, earthy, golden vinegar perfect for seasoning your greens.
Ok, gotta run! We’ll talk!