On my mother’s farm in Ivanhoe Ontario, she lovingly grows hundreds of bulbs of garlic each year. Did you know there are different kinds of garlic? I’m sure you at least kind of knew, you’ve probably seen “regular garlic”, purple garlic, and maybe even elephant garlic at the grocery store?
She grows 4 different varieties; Music, Russian Red, French, and Spanish Roja. Early in the summer the garlic will send up what is called a scape, which is a tender and curly looking stalk that is crisp with a very garlicky flavour. It’s 100% edible and if left on the plant it will turn into a big flower that is comprised of many itty bitty garlic cloves. Garlic is a member of the onion family, it sends up a flower like an onion does, but it’s best to trim the scape off before it has the chance to flower. You see, it takes a lot of energy to send a two foot long stalk skyward and even more energy to produce a flower, so by trimming the scape off the plant we not only get an early garlic treat, but it also focuses the plant’s energy back down into the bulb.
Scapes can be eaten raw or cooked, they go great in stir fries or anywhere else you’d use garlic, they make great pesto, dips, and excellent pickles. When pickled they resemble a very garlicky pickled bean. Yum.
Pickled Garlic Scapes
For every pint of garlic scapes you’ll need:
1 bunch garlic scapes (washed and trimmed of the flower), about 15
3/4 cups apple cider vinegar
3/4 cups water
1 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 tablespoons raw sugar (can substitute granulated white sugar if necessary)
½ teaspoon black peppercorns – optional
½ teaspoon mustard seed (not ground mustard) - optional
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (can omit if you’re sensitive to heat) – optional
¼ teaspoon coriander seeds (not ground coriander) –optional
Some fresh dill weed or ½ tsp dill seeds – optional
Coil each garlic scape and insert into a pint-sized sterilized mason or ball jar. To sterilize, simple place in a pot of boiling water for 3-5 minutes, and carefully remove with tongs.
When you have filled the jar to within 1/2 –inch of the top of the jar, coil or break any extra scapes and stuff them down into the center of the jar. When the jars are full of scapes, add the spices to each pint jar. Set aside.
Bring the apple cider vinegar, water, salt, and sugar to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved, use a wooden spoon for stirring. Carefully pour the boiling brine over the garlic scapes. The garlic scapes will probably pop up and look like they are trying to get out of the jar. Use a sterile butterknife to push it back into the jar. Bang the jars on the counter a couple times to try and release some of the air bubbles.
Wipe the rims of the jars, then fix the lid tightly into place. Make sure you wash and then boil the new lids for a few minutes before adding them to the jars to seal.
Let the jars come to room temperature – do not touch the lids, they will make a popping noise and seal all on their own. If one of the lids doesn’t seal properly after it has come to room temp, simply store that jar in the fridge and eat it first.
Let the scapes cure for at least a week before eating.