pickled garlic scapes

loop de loop

It’s no secret here that I love garlic scapes, and I’ve already written about most of the ways we eat them: grilled, sauteed, blitzed into pesto. But I wrote an article on cooking scapes for Grow Northwest last month, and I threw in a recipe that I hadn’t tried before: pickled garlic scapes. My own garlic crop this year is pathetic (my back yard is getting too shady to grow garlic), so I had to wait until a local farm had them at their market booth, and only got the scapes into the pickling liquid for my trial run the day the article was due for publication.

packing in the scapespickled garlic scapes

Fortunately for my credibility, it worked! I opened the jar when we got back from our road trip and I really like them. The scapes I used are a little tough and fibrous, but the texture on the whole is like very firm green beans, and the flavor is rich, mellow and extremely garlicky.

The recipe I used is basically the one from Marisa McClellan of Food in Jars, and her version is on the Serious Eats website here. I really liked the flavor of the dilly brine with the garlic, but I’ve seen many different flavors of brine used for scapes. As long as you have the right ratio of vinegar, water and salt I don’t think it matters what else you put in there. Halving the recipe works very well if you just want one small jar.

Also, I don’t can, so I just packed the scapes into a clean jar and put on the lid after adding the hot brine, then let the jar cool on the counter before I put it into the fridge. I waited a week before opening it again, and we’ll try to finish them off within a few weeks. I like these enough, though, that I might actually try canning some next season to eat all year.

pickling vinegar

Pickled Garlic Scapes (previously published in the July 2012 issue of Grow Northwest magazine)

  • about a pound of garlic scapes
  • 2 teaspoons dill seed
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons fine salt

Thoroughly clean your jars, either one quart jar or two pints. Trim the ends of the scapes, making sure to remove the fibrous blossom sheath, and cut them into lengths that will fit in your jars (garlic scapes are so curly it’s a little tricky to pack them tightly). Place the dill and black peppercorns in the jars and pack the trimmed scapes in on top.

Combine the vinegar, water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Slowly pour the hot brine over the garlic scapes, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Once the jar is full, tap the jar lightly to dislodge any air bubbles. Check the headspace again and add more brine if necessary.

If you want to can your pickles, wipe the rim, apply the jar lid and ring, and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. If you don’t bother with the hot water bath, simply put on a lid and refrigerate. Let the pickles cure for at least a week before eating. They will last for several weeks in the refrigerator.


mostly local

the all-local dinner

While I am, in principle, a big fan of the locavore, 100-mile diet movement, I really don’t think I’m ever going to manage to eat one hundred percent local. I’m very fond of olive oil, for instance. And mangoes. But it does give me a thrill when I realize that everything on my plate was produced within a fifty mile radius of my house. This was a recent dinner of grilled lamb chops, Japanese eggplant and asparagus, all purchased at the downtown farmer’s market.

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a new way to eat garlic

garlic scapes

I’ve been growing garlic for years – it’s one of the few vegetables that I consistently have in my garden, and I can usually grow enough that we only need to buy a few heads in the spring to tide us over. I used to grow softneck, but I discovered Rocambole hardneck garlic about 5 years ago and have grown it exclusively ever since – I think it has a better flavor, and it’s often much easier to peel.

One major difference between softneck and hardneck is that hardneck puts up flower stalks in the spring. If you leave them on, the flowers turn into little clusters of bulbils, taking energy from the main bulb, so it’s best to cut them off – I haven’t always been good about this, but I usually make it out there at some point, haphazardly whack off the flower scapes and compost them.

garlic scapes

But this year! This year I’ve been reading food blogs, and I’ve discovered something new. Turns out, if you pick the scape before it blooms and hardens, you can eat it! I have never seen this information in a cookbook, not even my Alice Waters book. Continue reading