Garlic scapes are the curly, green shoots that emerge from the tops of garlic plants. If you have planted hardneck garlic make sure to check your plants for delicious garlic scapes. These flavorful and versatile vegetable-like structures not only add a unique touch to your culinary creations but also offer a range of health benefits. If you find yourself with an abundance of garlic scapes and want to make them last beyond their peak season, fret not! We will explore various methods for preserving garlic scapes, so you can enjoy their vibrant taste and aroma throughout the year.
Preserving Garlic Scapes
Preserving garlic scapes allows you to savor their delightful flavors even after the harvest season. By applying the right techniques, you can extend their shelf life while maintaining their nutritional value and culinary appeal. Let’s dive into some effective methods for preserving garlic scapes.
Freezing Garlic Scapes
Freezing is a simple and efficient way to preserve garlic scapes, locking in their freshness for later use. Follow these steps to freeze your garlic scapes:
- Trim the scapes: Remove any tough or damaged parts from the garlic scapes.
- Cut into desired lengths: Slice the scapes into your preferred lengths, typically around 2-3 inches.
- Blanch the scapes: Submerge the scapes in a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then transfer them immediately into ice water to halt the cooking process.
- Dry Scapes: After blanching, gently pat the scapes dry with a clean towel.
- Pack Garlic Scapes: Place them in freezer-safe containers, or bags or vacuum seal them removing as much air as possible.
- Label and freeze: Label the containers with the date and contents, then place them in the freezer.
Pickling Garlic Scapes
Pickling garlic scapes not only preserves their texture and flavor but also imparts a tangy twist. Here’s a simple refrigerator pickling recipe to try:
Ingredients for Pickled Garlic Scapes
- Prepare the brine: In a saucepan, combine equal parts vinegar and water. Add salt and sugar to taste. If desired, you can include pickling spices like mustard seeds, dill seeds, or peppercorns for extra flavor.
- Heat the brine: Bring the brine to a boil, then let it simmer for a few minutes to infuse the flavors.
- Prep the garlic scapes: Trim the scapes and cut them into manageable lengths, ensuring they fit into your jars.
- Pack the jars: Place the garlic scapes into sterilized jars, leaving a bit of headspace.
- Pour the brine: Carefully pour the hot brine into the jars, covering the scapes completely.
- Seal and store: Secure the jars with lids, ensuring they are tightly sealed. Allow the pickled scapes to cool at room temperature before storing them in the refrigerator. They will be ready to enjoy after a few days of marinating.
Dehydrating Garlic Scapes
Dehydrating garlic scapes removes their moisture content, resulting in a concentrated flavor that can be used in various culinary applications.
Instructions for Dehydrating Garlic Scapes
To dehydrate your garlic scapes:
- Clean and trim the scapes: Rinse the scapes thoroughly and trim off any unwanted parts.
- Slice into small pieces: Cut the scapes into small pieces, approximately 1-2 inches in length.
- Arrange them on dehydrator trays: Place the sliced scapes in a single layer on dehydrator trays, ensuring proper airflow between the pieces.
- Set the temperature: Follow the instructions of your dehydrator and set the temperature to around 135°F (57°C).
- Dehydrate until crisp: Allow the scapes to dehydrate for 6-8 hours or until they become dry and crispy.
- Cool and store: Once the scapes are fully dehydrated, let them cool to room temperature. Store them in airtight containers or glass jars in a cool, dry place.
Making Garlic Scape Pesto
Garlic scape pesto is a delicious and versatile way to preserve the flavors of garlic scapes. Here’s a simple recipe for refrigerator or freezer pesto that you can make at home:
- Garlic scapes
- Fresh basil leaves
- Parmesan cheese, grated
- Pine nuts or walnuts
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare the scapes: Trim the scapes, removing any tough or woody sections.
- Blend the ingredients: In a food processor, combine the garlic scapes, basil leaves, grated Parmesan cheese, pine nuts (or walnuts), and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pulse until roughly chopped.
- Add olive oil: While the food processor is running, slowly pour in the olive oil until the mixture reaches your desired consistency.
- Adjust seasoning: Taste the pesto and add more salt, pepper, or olive oil if needed.
- Store in jars: Transfer the pesto into sterilized jars, leaving a thin layer of olive oil on top to preserve its freshness.
- Refrigerate or freeze: Put the lids on the jars and store them in the refrigerator for immediate use or freeze them for longer-term storage.
Garlic Scape Compound Butter
Garlic scape compound butter is a fantastic way to preserve the vibrant flavors of garlic scapes and enhance the taste of various dishes. Follow this simple recipe to make your compound butter:
- Garlic scapes
- Unsalted butter, softened
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare the scapes: Trim the scapes, removing any tough or fibrous parts.
- Chop the scapes: Finely chop the garlic scapes into small pieces.
- Mix with butter: In a mixing bowl, combine the softened butter and chopped scapes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Blend well: Use a fork or spoon to mix the ingredients thoroughly until the garlic scapes are evenly distributed throughout the butter.
- Shape and store: Transfer the compound butter onto a sheet of parchment or wax paper. Roll it into a log shape, twisting the ends to seal. Place the log in the refrigerator to firm up.
- Slice and use: Once the compound butter is firm, slice it into discs or use it as needed to add a burst of garlic flavor to your favorite dishes.
FAQs about Preserving Garlic Scapes
- Can I preserve garlic scapes without blanching them?
- Blanching garlic scapes before freezing helps to retain their color, texture, and flavor. It also helps to deactivate enzymes that may cause them to spoil or lose quality over time. Therefore, blanching is highly recommended for optimal preservation.
- How long can I store pickled garlic scapes?
- Properly pickled garlic scapes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to several months. However, the quality may start to decline after a few weeks, so it’s best to consume them within the first few months for the best flavor and texture.
- Can I dehydrate garlic scapes without a dehydrator?
- Yes, you can dehydrate garlic scapes without a dehydrator. Simply tie the scapes into small bunches and hang them in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight. Allow them to air dry until they become crisp.
- How long does garlic scape pesto last in the refrigerator?
- Garlic scape pesto can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. To prolong its shelf life, you can also freeze it in ice cube trays and transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer-safe container for longer storage.
- Can I use salted butter for making garlic scape compound butter?
- While you can use salted butter for making compound butter, it’s best to use unsalted butter and adjust the salt to taste. This gives you more control over the final seasoning of the compound butter.
Preserving garlic scapes allows you to enjoy their wonderful flavors and health benefits long after the harvest season has ended. Whether you choose to freeze, pickle, dehydrate, make pesto, or create compound butter, each method offers a unique way to extend the shelf life of garlic scapes and enhance your culinary creations. By following the techniques and recipes shared in this guide, you can savor the essence of garlic scapes throughout the year, ensuring your dishes are infused with their vibrant and aromatic goodness. So go ahead, preserve those garlic scapes, and add a burst of flavor to your meals!