Hi there, fellow garden enthusiasts!
This weekend I was surveying my community garden plot (I try to do it at least once a week, although daily observation is ideal) and lo and behold: I discovered that the garlic scapes were ready to harvest! This came as a bit of surprise, as I was not expecting them for another two weeks or so.
That meant one thing: I would be pickling this weekend. I had mixed feelings about pickling those, because on one hand, I love pickled garlic scapes, but on the other, I only have about 20 plants, so barely have enough to make two 8 oz jars… Still pickling those is so easy that I decided to proceed anyway, and I am sharing the recipe with you. This is pretty much the same recipe I used in this post, describing how to pickle radish seed pods, but I will repeat it here as well.
Here is what you will need:
- Garlic scapes – about 20
- Garlic – two cloves (one per jar), sliced
- Black peppercorns – about 10 (5 per jar; quantity depends on how fresh they are, mine were pretty old)
- Bay leaf – 2 (one per jar)
- Brown mustard seed – 1 tsp (1/2 tsp per jar)
- Water – 1Qt (500mL)
- Salt – 5 tsp
- Sugar – 1 1/2 tsp
- Distilled white vinegar – 2 Tbsp
- canning jars, with lids and rings (all clean and sterilized in boiling water)
- water bath setup (in my case, a dutch oven and two terracotta saucers)
First you prepare your jars by stuffing the scapes in (I like to keep them long, but you can also cut them into 2-inch long segments), along with the spices.
Prepare the waterbath. You can purchase one, or make a simple setup of what you have on hand. What you need is a large pot with a lid (a dutch oven in my case) and something to put on the bottom to even out heat distribution between the bottom of the pan and the glass jars (a wire rack would be better, but these terracotta saucers work just fine, too).
Then you get the brine ready (boil the water, dissolve sugar and salt, turn the heat off, and then mix in the vinegar) and pour it into the jars.
Close the lids, followed by the screw-on rings, and place the jars in the waterbath. Close the bath lid and let it boil on low heat for 30 minutes). Make sure there is always water in the setup, do not let it dry out!
You may have noticed that I did not use a waterbath in my previous posts about pickling. That is because I only recently learned about this method. Before I have been canning using the method that my grandfather used, and to be frank, I never had any problems. However, the FDA did some testing, and it is now recommended that for maximum food safety all pickles and jams should be waterbath canned, and all neutral pH foods (like non-pickled vegetables) must be pressure-canned, to avoid outgrowth of botulism spores. And even though I never had any issues with my old method, as a scientist, I trust in FDA testing and prefer to be safe rather than sorry. So I will use waterbath canning for all my pickles from now on. If you are interested in food preservation, I cannot recommend Teresa Loe and her blog Living Homegrown highly enough! Teresa has background in engineering and always explains the reasons of using one method over another. She also has had culinary training, so her food preserves are both safe and delicious.
After the 30 minutes are over, I take the jars out and let them completely cool to room temperature on the counter. Then I remove the screw-on rings. This is another practice I was not aware of, but you are actually supposed to store the jars without the rings. This way, if the seal gets broken, it is immediately evident and you can consume the food right away or move it to the fridge for short-term storage. It also prevents the rings from rusting over.
I will probably save these two jars of pickled garlic scapes for winter, because they go so well with stewed vegetables, mashed potatoes and other cold season foods.
How do you eat your garlic scapes?