Wondering what you can do with extra garlic scapes? This easy canning recipe is a wonderful way to preserve fresh garlic scapes for a tasty winter treat!Jump to Recipe
In spite of the fact that I grew up gardening, I didn’t meet (or eat, rather) a garlic scape until I was an adult. The first time I tried one, these flavor-packed, curly stems blew my mind!
They had the garlic flavor but unlike garlic cloves, lacked the spice and actually carried a sweet undertone. I soon discovered there were many different ways they could be used in the kitchen.
As a home cook, I was thrilled with the flavor of garlic scapes. And as a gardener, I was delighted to learn that my garlic could yield me not one crop, but two!
What’s not to love about that?
So every summer since, I’ve tried to preserve a double batch of canned pickled garlic scapes in the water bath canner.
This recipe is so easy, anyone can learn to do it. So let’s dive into this!
What Are Garlic Scapes?
Garlic scapes are the stems that garlic flowers grow on. When a hardneck garlic plant is ready to reproduce, it sends out a firm, round stalk with a very long bud at the top. If left alone, the bud will blossom and eventually produce tiny garlic bulbils.
Later in the summer, the garlic will drop these bubils to the earth, where they will produce little garlic plants the following spring.
Interested to learn more? You can learn how to grow garlic from bulbils HERE.
But here’s the thing! Most gardeners don’t allow their hardneck garlic to flower out or produce bulbils. Letting garlic go into reproduction mode always results in a smaller garlic bulbs at harvest time.
So to grow bulbs as large as possible, gardeners snap off scapes before they blossom out and put them to use in the kitchen, leaving the plant to put all it’s energy into producing larger garlic cloves.
What Type of Garlic Produces Scapes?
Did you know that not all garlic varieties produce garlic scapes? There are two basic types of garlic that the backyard gardeners grow.
The first are softneck types, which are commonly grown in warmer climates. Ever drooled over a beautiful garlic braid? That’s a softneck variety right there! Unlike hardneck garlic types, they don’t produce a scape and flower.
If you want scapes, you have to grow hardneck garlic varieties.
They’re the common choice for northern gardeners and actually, it’s the scape that gives these garlic types their name. After being harvested and dried, the flowering stalk that runs through the middle of the greens turns very stiff and has to be cut off with pruning shears, thus the name “hardneck.”
When to Harvest Garlic Scapes
If you live in a northern region, your garlic will start sending up scapes in early summer. Because scapes are slow to flower out, you can let them grow for at least 3-4 weeks for a more plentiful harvest.
Ideally, you’d harvest scapes before the base of the stalk turns tough and woody. You can test scapes by snapping one off every week and nibbling at the base. Try to harvest before tough fibers develop.
It’ll make cutting and stuffing them into jars that much easier!
Where to Find Garlic Scapes
Hardneck garlic is such an easy crop to put in and care for, I think everyone should try at least once! I even teach you how RIGHT HERE.
But what if you don’t grow your own garlic?
Scapes aren’t exactly something you’ll find at your local grocers! So actually, the best place to look for garlic scapes would be at your local farmer’s market. Or, if you’re part of a CSA that delivers seasonal produce to your doorstep, you just might end up with a bag or two in your weekly delivery!
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Tips for Making Canned Pickled Garlic Scapes
You can get the full canning recipe below. But here are a few tips on making canned pickled garlic scapes!
- Harvest scapes before they get too long and stringy
- Before filling jars, always test the base of your scapes and remove any tough ends
- Trim off the long tapered end of your buds; they’re too tough to eat
- Don’t be afraid to stuff your jars as full as you can get them!
Uses for Pickled Garlic Scapes
Once you’ve made your canned pickled garlic scapes, how do you actually go about using them? Here are some of the ways I love to incorporate them into our meals!
- serve as a side dish at the dinner table (simple right?)
- chop and add to tuna fish or egg salad sandwiches
- as a replacement for dill pickles in homemade potato salad
- add to your homemade sandwiches
- serve as part of a charcuterie board
Because scapes are pickled, they can be used as a replacement for dill pickles in any of your favorite recipes. The garlic flavor is very light and sour levels are high. So experiment in the kitchen and have some fun with your canned pickled garlic scapes!
Canning Pickled Garlic Scapes
- 1 water bath canner
- 7 pint (500 ml) jars
- 7 standard mouth canning lids
- 7 standard canning bands
- 1 stockpot for making brine
- 1800 gm (4 lbs) fresh and tender garlic scapes
- 6 cups apple cider vinegar (white vinegar also works)
- 6 cups filtered water
- 2 tablespoons canning salt
- 7 teaspoons mustard seed (optional)
- Harvest garlic scapes in morning before it gets too hot
- Add water to waterbath canner and heat on the stove
- In a stockpot, measure out water, vinegar and salt
- Place on stove and bring to a rolling boil, boiling for 10 minutes
- Take a single garlic scape and measure it against the height of your pint (or 500 ml) jar, accounting for 1 inch of open headspace
- Use this scape as a measuring stick as you start cutting scapes and filling jars
- Note: if using mustard seed, add to jars before packing with garlic scapes
- Pack lengths of garlic scapes into pint jars to the best of your ability
- After all 7 jars have been filled, grab your funnel and ladle
- Set the funnel on the mouth of your jar and ladle hot brine over scapes, leaving 1/2 inch headspace
- Remove the funnel, wipe the jar's rim with a damp paper towel or cloth and pop a lid into place
- Tighten the band to fingertip tightness and place in the hot waterbath canner
- Repeat until all 7 jars are filled
- When the water bath canner is full, pop the lid in place and process for 10 minutes at 0-1,000 ft in altitude.