Scads of Scapes

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Another lovely weekend on the farm, another peaceful, productive day of preserving. This week’s episode: garlic scapes. Have you heard of ’em? Or seen ’em? They’re eccentric little buggers..that’s for sure. Twisting and looping amongst the tall, straight leaves, bursting with energy, wanting to push out a flower. Alas, our CSA is expecting juicy bulbs, not delicate flowers, so they’re all coming off.

Some might be intimidated by thousands of garlic scapes, but I just see possibilities. Scapes are full of vitamin C, boost your immune system, and help promote a healthy heart. So I set about preserving these nutritional benefits, and the tender, mild garlic taste in the best ways I know how: pesto and pickles.

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You can see from the photo that I preserved a bit more than just garlic scapes…strawberries and basil are also in full gear right now, and I couldn’t resist a few batches of strawberry basil jam and plain old basil pesto. For now, I’ve got a highly flexible recipe for garlic pesto to share:

Garlic Scape Pesto

10-15 garlic scapes
1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds
pinch of salt
1/2 lemon
1 T nutritional yeast
Olive oil

Place the scapes and seeds in your blender or food processor, and pulse away. Add olive oil until it reaches your desired consistency. I found that scape pesto tends to be a bit chunkier than basil pesto, no matter how much oil you add…I was generally not adding more than 1, maybe 2 tablespoons. Some recipes might call for a half cup of oil, that just seems excessive to me, but maybe you’ll be into it. Try it out.
Once you’ve got the consistency down, add in some salt, lemon juice and some nutritional yeast for a nutty, cheesy flavor.
Enjoy on toast, pasta and bean dishes, in soups, or as a dip.

For some variations…
Nuts/Seeds: pine nuts, almonds, walnuts, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds; raw, toasted, sprouted
Oils: sunflower, safflower, nut, avocado, flax, sesame
Additional herbs/greens: dill, parsley, cilantro, basil, kale, arugula, spinach

For a wonderfully subtle, sweet garlic flavor, try roasting or grilling your garlic scapes and then blending them into pesto. Oh man, I could’ve just eaten that stuff with a spoon. But! I froze it for future times when we’re scapeless and scrounging.

And of course, no preservation day is complete without some fermentation. Full post on this still in the works, but I am nowhere near the expertise level of Sally Fallon or Sandor Katz, so give me a few more cycles of experimentation…

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These three jars took me all of ten minutes to put together. I mixed up 3 quarts of dechlorinated water, 3/4 cup brine from a previous ferment, and 3 T sea salt. I packed each jar with some combination of scapes, dill, hot peppers, and peppercorns, and then poured the brine to cover the scapes.
The jars are now hanging out on my counter, where I’ll periodically check to make sure they’re submerged in the brine, and in a week (though I’ll probably wait at least two) I’ll be tasting them until they’ve reached lacto-fermented perfection. Er, close to it.

Not much better than a crunchy, tangy, spicy pickle on a hot day…

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