How to Ferment Garlic Scapes
If you live in a northern climate then spring is a season of waiting and wonder. In winter we make garden plans, in early spring we begin putting seeds in, and finally late spring brings tiny seedlings popping up everywhere.
If you’ve planted a fall garlic crop, however, your spring harvest can begin earlier than you might think. In the spring your garlic will come up and off of some varieties of garlic will come little flower-containing shoots, known as garlic scapes.
These scapes can be cut to be eaten in early spring. It is actually better to cut them than to leave them on the plant as cutting allows the plant to put all of its energy into those bulbs that you will be harvesting later in the year.
Garlic scapes are pungent, just like garlic cloves, but have a brighter, fresher, and lighter flavor. They are delicious in salads, any dish requiring garlic, and get an extra tangy boost from lacto-fermentation.
Three Ways to Ferment
Garlic scapes can be lacto-fermented to preserve them, boost their nutrition, and add great flavor. These can then be eaten for months, adding flavor and probiotics to whatever dish you choose to make.
The shape of the garlic scape allows for three fermentation options:
Whole. This is the simplest way to brine pickle them. Simply bend and twist these long fellows into your fermenting vessel, poor over brine, cover and allow to ferment. You don’t even need to break out the knife or cutting board for this version.
For a dramatic touch to a meal, serve these as part of a fermented food plate alongside cured sausages, cheese, crackers, and fruit. Or simply remove and dice them as needed for whatever dish you are making.
Diced in Brine. This is a bit more work up front, but allows you to simply scoop them out later on and add to your salads or other dishes. Simply chop them up into bite-sized pieces, cover in brine, weight down, and allow to ferment.
Relish. For something a bit different use garlic scapes as part of a pungent, spicy relish. Dice finely along with other vegetables such as cucumbers or celery, add dill or other herbs and salt, throw in a couple of tablespoons of whey or liquid from a previous ferment, weight down and allow to ferment until bubbly.
Serve on top of your favorite protein, in a sandwich, on burgers, or atop cheese and crackers.
A note on the flower buds and spoilage: The flower buds of the garlic scape are quite tender and fragile, whereas the rest of the stock is sturdy. These flower buds tend to deteriorate a bit faster in storage than the stocks.
So, if you plan to store your garlic scape ferment long term you may want to separate off the flower buds, ferment them by themselves, and consume them within a few weeks of fermentation. The stocks should last quite a bit longer in storage on their own.
Recipes to Get You Started
Now that you have the basic philosophy behind fermenting garlic scapes, here are some recipes to get you started: