TIME: 20 MINUTES (not including optional canning); SERVES: 1 PINT (multiply by 8 to can a full hot water bath)
Garlic scapes are among the most highly anticipated Spring offerings. Like peas and strawberries, they are fleeting—moreso because there is just one harvest from each garlic plant. The flavor is milder and sweeter than garlic cloves, with a tender crunch. They can be used fresh or lightly sautéed in any dish you would otherwise use cloves, but they truly shine when bathed in brine.
*A little growing knowledge: For storage garlic, cloves are planted in the Fall and left to overwinter. In the Spring, the clove shoots up a green stalk and continues to flesh out its bulb. Before the bulb is fully formed, the plant will reveal its flower—or garlic “scape”—this must be harvested off each plant before fully open to prevent the bulb from shattering, rendering it useless.
Because of the need to promptly harvest every scape, growers usually have a one-time bounty. I try to can at least a dozen or so jars to give as gifts throughout the season. If you don’t grow garlic, and just want to make a single batch, this recipe can be adapted as a refrigerator pickle (no need to bust out the hot water bath). Just allow the flavors to meld for a few weeks before serving. Pickled scapes are an amazing addition to an hors d’oeuvres platter, alongside sharp cheese and cured meat.
About 2 - 3 bunches garlic scapes (1/2 pound)
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
1/4 tsp. coriander seeds
1 bay leaf
1 whole dried chili, or 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 whole dill head, or 1 tsp. dill seed
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar (5% acidity)
3/4 cup water
1 tbls. kosher salt (non-iodized)
Wash the scapes. Trim off tough ends and blossoms (you can save these bits for stock).
Place all the spices into a sterilized mason jar, minus the salt. Stuff the garlic scapes into the jar, either by trimming to size, or wrapping them around in a circular pattern, and then filling in the center.
Heat the vinegar, water, and salt in a saucepan until boiling. Pour into the jar.
From here you can continue with processing in a hot water bath for 10 minutes to make shelf-stable pickles, or simply put a tight fitting lid on the jar and set in the fridge for a couple weeks before tasting.