I’m a pickle fiend. You may or may not know that every summer I put up in the neighborhood of eight dozen jars of garlic dill pickles. I also put up bread and butter pickles, dilly green beans, dill relish, bread and butter relish, Sweet and Spicy Asian pickled carrots, and other pickled goodies like Refrigerated Pickled Salad. You’ve probably also seen my crowned jewel in my pickle arsenal: Claussen Knock-Offs. One of the things that differentiates the Claussen Knock-Offs from my garlic dill pickles –because they are made with many of the same spices and other ingredients- is that they are fresh (or fermented) pickles. They never see the inside of a canner!
Even though I clearly adore my canned pickles (as evidenced by the sheer quantity of them that I can and we eat) those are my favourite pickles. Today, I’m introducing you to a relatively new member of my fresh/fermented pickle pantry: Pickled Garlic Scapes.
Why pickle garlic scapes?
Are you familiar with garlic scapes? They’re the curly, wonky shoots that pop up from garlic plants in late spring and early summer. They range in thickness from hefty-chive to green-onion size and they smell and taste like mild garlic. If you’re a fan of garlic (and I assume you are if you spend much time here on Foodie with Family), then you are quite likely to be a fan of garlic scapes.
Garlic scapes are versatile; they taste amazing chopped up fresh and added to salads, in pesto, sautéed with bacon, on top of pizzas, and more. PICKLED garlic scapes take that fabulousness to an even higher plane. They add a little tang of vinegar and a hint of spice to the party. I’ve been known to fish a cold, pickled garlic scape out of the jar and munch it plain. Granted, this is a pretty bad idea if you’re going to go out to a party where you’re going to be cheek-to-jowl with a lot of people, but if you’re staying home and your sweetheart eats one, too, you’re golden. This may or may not be one of the reasons I’m a homebody.
Leaving all that aside, garlic scapes are really only available at one time of year. NOW. If you want to preserve the deliciousness that is the garlic scape in all it’s glory, there’s only one way to do it. You have to pickle it. Just imagine cracking open a jar of pickled garlic scapes in January and putting it on a pizza or chopping it up and adding it to potato salad or a pasta dish. Shoot, you can even make pickled garlic scape pesto. Can you picture anything more heart-lifting than a bowl of garlic scape pesto while the snow swirls ouside your window? Or a hearty breakfast of frittata or scrambled eggs studded with pickled garlic scapes on a cool fall morning?
And people, it only takes about ten minutes of your time to pickle up a jar or two of these green, mild garlic beauties.
How do I pickle garlic scapes?
This is probably one of the easiest pickles to make in the entire world. You wash the scapes, you twirl them into coils, you put them in a sterilized jar, you measure your spices in on top, bring vinegar/water/salt/sugar to a boil and pour it over the scapes.
Wipe the rims, and screw a lid in place. Let it cool and stash it in the corner of the refrigerator. Full stop. I really mean the full stop. You have to wait for six whole weeks before you crack into them for best results. I’m not going to lie, that’s incredibly hard. In fact, it’s far harder to wait to eat them than it is to make them. The good news is that they’re good for six to eight months after they’re made and there’s no canning involved. All you need is a little patience and a corner of the refrigerator for them to call their own.
You’ll be so glad you did!
- 2 bunches garlic scapes (washed and trimmed of any withered or brown areas)
- 1 ½ cups apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ cups water
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar (can substitute granulated white sugar if necessary)
- ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon mustard seed (not ground mustard)
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (can omit if you're sensitive to heat)
- ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds (not ground coriander)
- Coil each garlic scape and insert into a sterilized mason or ball jar. When you have filled the jar to within ¼ –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. 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 chopstick or butterknife to push it back into the jar. Wipe the rims of the jars, then fix the lid tightly into place. Let the jars come to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator for 6 weeks before opening and tasting. Be patient. It’s worth it!
- The pickled garlic scapes will store well for up to 8 months when stored tightly covered in the refrigerator. If at any point the scapes stick above the brine and develop mold, remove the entire scape that has mold. The rest should still be alright.