Zesty, crunchy, garlicky! What a great way to preserve the garlic scape harvest. These unique pickles will be a conversation piece on any charcuterie platter or dinner plate. Use them as a garnish or as a flavor booster for many different dishes. Make them as easy refrigerator pickles (no canning required) or use the simple oven canning method to preserve them for longer.
The garden is in full abundant swing. And so are the weeds! I just cannot manage to keep up with them this year. After a record 10 inches (25cm) of rain in the first six weeks after planting, and then some blazingly hot days since, everything green is going crazy. I'm sure if I could sit still long enough I'd be able to see the vegetables (and weeds) growing in front of my eyes! I try to get outside for an hour or two each morning, before the heat of the day starts rolling in. I am finally making progress and am able to see the rows in the garden emerging. The compost pile gets higher and higher with wheelbarrows full of weeds I dump on there, and even the chickens are tired of the heaps I toss in their pen for pecking at, saying, 'No more, bock, bock, bock!'.
We've been eating lots of lettuce, herbs, onions, rhubarb, and broccoli already. The strawberries are almost finished, and the raspberries and saskatoons are just starting to ripen. I can see that the beets are getting big enough to eat, and the potatoes are blooming, so tiny, tender new potatoes are on the menu soon.
I was able to find some of our garlic scapes valiantly growing amongst the neglected garlic patch hiding in the weeds. Can you spot a few of them curling delicately amongst the green and purple? These flowering stems of hardneck garlic varieties need to be cut out, so the energy in the plant can focus on growing bigger garlic heads rather than going toward producing flowers. Luckily for us, the stems we cut out (scapes) are absolutely delicious, garlicky and herbacious. If you don't have a patch of garlic in your own garden, you can usually find the scapes at farmers markets at this time of year. They make a unique and bright pesto and an absolutely delightful risotto, too.
Luckily a friend gifted me with a big bag full of the scapes she harvested from her garden. I was in garlic scape heaven!
So this year I entered the garlicky world of pickled garlic scapes. These wacky curly stems pack a zippy, tangy garlic crunch and stay appetizingly crispy when pickled. I utilized the super simple oven canning method, since the brine was acidic enough. The short heating time is enough to seal the jars, but doesn't overcook the garlic scapes, so they stay crunchy. The use of apple cider vinegar adds a brightness and complexity, and goes particularly well with the garlic. Pull these out to add a fun and funky dash of pickle to any dinner.
Pickled Garlic Scapes - A Fun & Delicious Project
First you'll need to trim your scapes. Cut off the bud and trim the stringy tip of the bud just after the thick part. You can add the buds to the pickling jars, or save enough of them to pickle them separately, or save them in a bag in the fridge to add to dishes like stir fries, scrambled eggs, pasta, etc.
Then also trim off the tough straight part of the stem just to where it cuts easily with a knife. The bottom few inches of the garlic scape can sometimes be a bit tough, depending on how old they are. These tough bits can be saved to add to soup stocks.
Cut a few inches off the tender straight part of each stem so the scapes curl more easily into the jar. You'll stuff the tender straight trimmings into the centers of the jars.
Once you have the scapes trimmed, you can curl them into the jars. You'll add a bay leaf (to help keep them crispy), and a slice of lemon and some peppercorns and mustard seeds (for flavour).
Then stuff the straight pieces of tender stem into the middle of the jars in the hollow formed by curling the scapes. You can also put the trimmed buds in here if you wish (or if you have enough of them, like I did, you can pickle them separately). Fill the jars as full as you can.
Then pour over the hot pickling brine and seal the jars. At this point you can keep the jars in the refrigerator for up to a year, if you have room. Or you can process the jars for longer storage out of the fridge. Use the easy oven-canning method - pop the hot sealed jars immediately into a hot oven for 10 minutes to seal them. After cooling, they will stay at room temperature for up to 2 years (or more). This easy oven-canning method makes it a cinch to can your pickled garlic scapes and works well for some kinds of pickles with a high acid brine (but for most other types of canning, it is important to process the jars in a boiling water bath).
Leave the sealed jars for at least a couple weeks before tasting, to allow the flavours to fully develop.
Use your unique pickled garlic scapes to add to a charcuterie platter. They taste fantastic chopped up and added to sandwiches, salads, burgers, tuna or egg or pasta salads. Or just serve them as weird and wonderful pickles to add pizzazz to almost any kind of meal.
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Pickled Garlic Scapes
For each pint (500ml) jar:
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 slice of lemon
- ½ teaspoon peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- garlic scapes to fill 2 pints about 2 bundles
For the brine:
- 1 cup (240ml) apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- 1 tablespoon (15gms) pickling salt
- ½ tablespoon sugar
- Trim the bud off each garlic scape (stuff them into the center of each jar, save enough of them to pickle separately, or reserve them for another purpose, like stir fries). Trim off and discard the tough part of the straight end of each garlic scape. Then cut off any remaining straight parts of the scapes and save them to fill the centers of each jar.
- Sterilize the amount of pint jars (500ml) you think you will need. See how to sterilize jars here.
- Put one bay leaf, one lemon slice, and a ½ teaspoon of peppercorns and mustard seeds into each jar. If you put the bay leaf and lemon slice against the side of the jar, they will make the jar look prettier. Coil the trimmed garlic scapes around the inside of the jar, fitting them in as well as you can. Fill the middle of the jar with the straight bits of garlic scape you trimmed from each one. Fit in as many as you can to fill the jars to within an inch (2.5cm) of the top.
- Heat the brine just to boiling in a small saucepan.
- Pour the hot brine over the garlic scapes, filling each jar to within a half inch (1 cm) of the top. If you are short of brine, just quickly heat up a bit more vinegar and water in equal amounts to top up the jars.
For refrigerator pickles:
- Seal the jars with lids and let them cool, then keep them in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
If you choose to can the jars, follow this procedure:
- Preheat the oven to 310° F (155° C). No, this isn't a typo - the temperature is very specific.
- Heat the number of metal snap lids you think you will need in a small saucepan of simmering water.
- Wipe the tops of the jars with a clean damp cloth. Add a hot metal snap lid and screw on the metal ring lid just so it is finger tight (as tight as you can get it with just your thumb and index finger).
- Place the filled, sealed jars in a baking dish, and heat them in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven (with pot holders) and set them onto a tea towel spread on the counter. Don't disturb them until they are completely cooled.
- If any jars don't seal (the lids will move up and down if you press on the center), cool them and store them in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. You can tell if the jars are sealed if the lids are sucked down and don't move when pressed. Sealed jars will last in a cool dark place for 2 years or more.
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