Garden Diary - July 2012

Tuesday, 24 July 2012
Pickled Garlic Scapes

When I was at the farmers market a couple of days ago along with their corn and canteloupes and tomatoes there were a few produce vendors who were also selling garlic scapes. These are the curlicue, slinky-like, about-to-be flowering stems of hard-neck garlic.

Garlicky, yes, but very mild. I bought a bunch. Now, what to do with it. I could just chop a couple of stems and throw them in a salad. Blitz with some oil and pine nuts and call it pesto. If, rather than the torrid, it's summer! weather we've been coping with it was cool enough to actually cook I'm sure I could think of interesting and creative and delicious ways to use it. But since I was making a batch of bread and butter pickles I figured what the heck, I'd pickle me some garlic scapes.

One bunch of garlic scapes isn't very much. That's O.K., I'd rather do a trial run than pickle up a couple of quarts only to decide that I didn't like them. What recipe to follow? There are a few recipes on-line: Korean pickled garlic scapes with equal parts soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Not for me. Another recipe called for a dried hot red pepper in each jar. Don't think so, I want to showcase the mild garlic flavor, not overwhelm it. Since I'm making bread and butter pickles, I decided to use the same seasonings of brown mustard seed, celery seed, black pepper, and tumeric in a not overly sweetened vinegar.

Appearance is important to me. I could have just jammed the squiggles into a jar. Instead
I trimmed the lower portion of each scape to the height of the jar, getting one or two lengths.
Then I coiled each curlicue into a tight ring, tucking in the ends, and slid them into the jar.

The straight pieces were fitted into the center, as many as I could squeeze into the sterilized jar.

This is a type of pickling called a fresh pack, suitable for vegetables such as cucumbers and green tomatoes. And garlic scapes. The hot seasoned vinegar is poured over the vegetables, in this case the garlic scapes. A gentle rap of the jar bottom on a wooden cutting board to dislodge bubbles. Wipe the jar rim and threads, seal, and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

And here we have it - pickled garlic scapes. A couple of weeks
to let the flavors mingle and then a taste test. I'll get some more next Sunday.

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