Friday, August 23, 2013

How to Preserve Chives For the Zombie Apocalypse

When planning for the time when supermarkets can no longer
augment your larder, ease of food gathering is a critical consideration to ensure survival. Therefore, planning your kitchen garden with low-maintenance, hardy plants can only be seen as a positive. The simpler the garden is to maintain the less likely you'll be exposed in the outdoors for long periods of time while weeding and such, and by default, to your brain being scooped out.

Chives, for example, offer such an advantage, and can be one of the most productive herbs in any garden- they are simple to grow in that they need only sun and water, have few, if any, aversions to disease or pests, and should you have a temporary camp-out of zombies blocking your path to your plantings, you needn't stress about watering or tending them every other second as they are so well-maintained. Use your extra time to thin out the walking-dead horde instead. When they have been dispatched, snip a few chives to celebrate over cream cheese and crackers.

The issue then becomes creating storage volumes for the off-season or 'hopelessly surrounded' times. Chives may not spread like the wandering eye of a mint cluster, but they are perennials and come back handily after harvesting. One small patch would suffice for most kitchen gardens, but gardeners tend to over plant- after all, we have the seeds, correct? We foresee a need, correct? They might act as a repellent to the almost deceased... eh, maybe.

Then this is where the conundrum lies- you want to have enough for the future, but how do you store them for use after your Fall harvest has finally come in?

The answer is, of course (as if I wouldn't answer it), to preserve them. The method is simple, and the tools readily available in your cupboard.

Harvest your chives by gathering a quarter-sized bunch in your hand at a time, and cut 1/2" from the ground with shears. Leave the bulbs in the ground- these are perennials, and will be the first sprouters in your garden next Spring if you remember to mulch over them before the first frost. Gather the bunches together in a basket, along with your assorted cabbages, carrots, squash, and whatever else is ready then bring them inside.

Wash the chives thoroughly for dirt and insect hitchhikers, then dry well between two towels. You may notice your bunches vary in length and circumference, as far as the individual chives are concerned. Don't stress- they all taste marvelous. The only argument for seeking only the larger chives is the ease of cleaning. The larger stalks rest more comfortably in your hand, while the smaller stalks tend to hold more dead leaves and such, making for more work.



Once you have a good bundle put together on the chopping block, hold down and cut, in a drawn motion, about every 1/2" or 1/4", making a pleasant pile of diced chives. I do not recommend 'chopping' per se, as the uniformity will go all out of whack and you could very well end up missing quite a few, making more work for yourself.

Flavor is a valuable commodity, so I tend to maintain one square foot of chives in my garden, and this has more than provided enough for my kitchen needs, as well as my extended family's desires. With the extra, I could conceivably trade for other canned goods, or ammunition. As a note, make sure your chives grow in a sunny location, away from overhanging plants such as tomatoes or bush beans. Not that shade will harm them, but it will contribute to a more diminutive size.

Once you have the chives diced, lay them in a single layer across a baking sheet and place in the freezer for five minutes or so, but no longer than 10 minutes. You want to have them flash freeze, so when you transfer them to your freezer containers, they don't freeze en masse. That, my friend, would defeat the purpose of having them ready for a spoonful or two on your favorite soup or baked potato.

Once transferred to a freezer container (I use the Glad line of storage lockware), place in your freezer to enjoy throughout the winter. Now, sit back, stay a safe distance from the undead, and wait for a fresh chive crop in the Spring.