Back in the fall we planted about 300 hundred hardneck garlic and they’ve been nothing but happy. They are so happy, that they’ve decided to shoot up scapes for us! A scape, in case you’re wondering, is the delicious stem and seed pod that is often overlooked as an edible that forms atop the growing garlic plant. In the spring, the scapes must be removed to prevent the plant from dedicating energy to forming a seed pod rather than the bulb below the ground. Some people leave them on (and complain about small garlic later in the season), some cut them off and let them compost back in, but why waste what is essentially an extra crop?
The scapes can be used as a garlic substitute but seeing as they are seasonal and only last a week in the fridge, you might not be able to get through a glut of them. We harvested 2½lbs, so using them in a week is beyond impossible. My long suffering wife’s grandmother gave me a recipe for jarring them that I’ve modified to create a safer pH level.
3 cups white vinegar (5%)
4 cups water
¼ cup pickling salt
- Rinse the scapes. Don’t go crazy scrubbing them. Any bugs will get processed and you’ll never even know they were there. Just remember, accidents happen; there are no true vegetarians. Rinsing just removes any debris holding on.
- Put jars onto boil. I add a glug of vinegar to the water which stops minerals from building up on the glass.
- Cut the tips above the pods off and compost. The tips are fibrous and not as nice as the rest of the plant.
- Cut the remaining part into sections that will fit, stood up, in the jars. To keep things consistent, I put two pieces of tape on the cutting board spaced out at the ideal length for my jars. This anal move will keep your OCD alive and well. Keep any short bits in a separate bowl.
- Mix the vinegar, water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.
- Once your jars are sterilized (after 20 minutes of boiling) pack them with scape lengths. Pack them in as tight as you can.
- Ladle boiling brine into jars until it covers the tips of the scapes, leaving some head room.
- After a minute, or so, the scapes will soften and more can be carefully added to each jar, including the short pieces kept aside.
- Wipe the rims of the filled jars, add lids and bands, put them back in your water bath, and process for 45 minutes.
Let them store for a few weeks, crack the seal and enjoy! If you get botulism (and survive) don’t blame the recipe, blame your filthy kitchen.
I have some extra scapes, still whole, if anyone wants to come by and grab a few to cook with this week. Just let us know in the comments below.