Garlic scapes are the curled flower stalks of hard-necked garlic, which is a family of garlic varieties that are grown in colder climates. These stalks are cut off by farmers to encourage better bulb growth. Pickled garlic scapes are an easy way to keep the lightly garlicky flavor of these garlic scapes around a little longer. These are easy "refrigerator pickles," which means they require no heat processing, but they must be kept in the fridge.
- 15 garlic scapes
- Optional: 1 dried chili
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 4 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 4 teaspoons sugar
Gather the ingredients.
Trim the garlic scapes, curl them up, and place them in a pint jar with a tight-fitting lid. We like to truly stack them on top of one another to make them pretty, and then fill in the center space with more tightly curled scapes, but you can also cut the scapes into bite-size pieces and then just pile them in.
Work the chili, if you're using it, into the jar with the garlic scapes. Tuck it in the center, or work it in along the side of the jar so you can see it. (This is especially useful if you're making more than 1 pint and some have chile and some don't.)
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the vinegar, salt, and sugar with 1 cup of water to a simmer. Cook, swirling the pan if necessary until the salt and sugar are fully dissolved.
Pour the warm vinegar mixture over the garlic scapes in the jars to cover them (you may not use all of the vinegar mixture), but leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace at the top (between the top of the liquid and where the lid will be). Screw the lid on the jar. Let it sit until cool, then store it in the refrigerator for at least 4 weeks and up to 6 months to let the flavors blend and the garlic scapes to "pickle." The pickles will get more tender over time, but their flavor will stay garlicky strong.
- Serve garlic scapes, drained of their brine (and gently patted dry, if you're so inclined), alongside grilled meats, on a grilled vegetable platter, or as part of a classic relish tray.
- Garlic scapes are available in late spring through early summer at farmers markets in colder growing regions.
- Look for bright green stalks that, while they bend easily, are neither so dried out that they snap nor so wilted they don't spring back into shape after you bend them gently.