Garlic scapes are available only once a year, and for a very brief period, making pickled garlic scapes is an easy way to preserve the mild garlic flavor and make excellent use of something that was previously seen as a by-product with little to no value.
My sister in law grows garlic, and early every summer she trims the down the top flowering shoots sent up from the garlic bulb before they flower. Trimming back these shoots also called scapes encourages the garlic bulb to continue growing. Some garlic growers toss the scapes, but they are considered a culinary delicacy in many Asian countries and are becoming increasingly popular here in the US. When in season they have been showing up more frequently at farmers markets and in CSA boxes. Garlic scapes have the texture and crunch of a green bean but with a mild garlic flavor. Aside from pickling them they are also really good in stir fry, tossed over pasta or in pesto. My sister in law shares her early summer scape bounty with friends and family, and I always look forward to getting a bag or two from her.
Why pickle garlic scapes?
Garlic Scapes are only available for a very short period of time (right now!) Pickling the garlic scapes is an easy way to keep the lightly garlicky flavor of garlic scapes around a little longer. You can also freeze garlic scapes, but my husband is a big fan of snacking on pickled garlic scapes right out of the jar, so I like to add a couple of jars to my “pickled pantry”. If you enjoy pickles and garlic and can get your hands on some fresh scapes, you will love pickled garlic scapes. And they are always such a fun conversation starter whenever someone spots them on a relish tray and asks what are “these pickled garlicky things?!?”
How to Pickle Garlic Scapes
Pickling garlic scapes is incredibly easy, in fact, the most time-consuming part will be trimming and wrangling the scapes into the jar. All of the parts of the scape can be used, even the blossom section for pickling, however, because scapes are naturally curly they can be difficult to get into a jar, so I trim the lower section, which is the straightest part of the scape for pickling (removing any parts that feel tough). I chop up the remainder curly sections and use it in stir fry and sauteed for pasta. The canning and processing procedures are the standard practices for hot water bath canning for foods containing high amounts of acid, if you are new to canning, I encourage you to contact you local Cooperative Extension (many offer canning classes for a very small registration fee).
- 1 bunch garlic scapes approximately what you can wrap two hands around, shoots aligned
- 1 cup vinegar, white vinegar or cider vinegar is fine, as long as the acidity is 5 percent
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons canning & pickling salt
- 1 tablespoon pickling spice mix
- 2 cloves garlic, split
- Trim the ends of the scapes, both the blossom end and the straighter end near the original cut, and cut them into lengths that will fit in your jar.
- Prepare a small boiling water bath and a single pint jar and lid. Once the jar is sanitized, place the pickling spice mix in the jar. Pack the trimmed scapes and garlic into the jar.
- Combine the vinegar, water and pickling 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. Wipe the rim, apply the lid and ring, and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude if necessary.
- Check for seal after 24 hours. Lids should not flex up and down when the center is pressed. Let these pickles cure for at least a week before eating. Pickles will last for several weeks in refrigerator after the initial seal is broken.
All the parts of the scape can be used, even the blossom section for pickling, however, because scapes are naturally curly they can be difficult to wrangle into a jar, so I trim the lower section, which is the straightest part of the scape for pickling. I chop up the remainder curly sections and use those for stir fry.
Recipe Adapted from: Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-Round
How to Use Pickled Garlic Scapes
After you let your pickled garlic scapes cure for at least a week Serve pickled garlic scapes, drained of their brine (and gently patted dry, if you’re so inclined), alongside grilled meats, on a grilled vegetable platter, or as part of a classic relish tray. You can also use pickled garlic scapes to make pesto. I have heard pickled garlic scapes make an excellent martini garnish, but I am not a martini drinker so I can’t verify that.
If you’ve read this far it is probably safe to assume you are a fan of garlic, and I think the Hudson Valley’s Garlic Festival might be right up your alley! It takes place at the end of September or early October. This unique festival is all about everything garlic, even things you wouldn’t generally associate with garlic contain some “stinking rose”. Visitors can enjoy garlic ice cream, garlic fudge, garlic jelly, garlic knots and so much more. Pack an apple or two to combat garlic breath! 2017 Festival Dates: Saturday 9/30 & Sunday 10/1 Saturday 10AM to 6PM, Sunday 10 AM to 5PM to get more details about this festival at the official Hudson Valley’s Garlic Festival website.