Another wonderful weekend. We`ve been noshing on leftovers from last week (Dana made a wonderful pasta and some asparagus soup made with our leftover asparagus ends from the pickled asparagus we made last weekend), connecting with more great food people and exploring our city. We even had a quiet date night with a slow dinner on the Danforth last night and a visit with friends on the beach in Toronto on Sunday.
We had another great visit to the Brick Works farmers market again. The growing season is really revving into full gear and variety is starting to fill the tables and some wonderful offerings. We were there in the early afternoon which limited selection but gave us a relaxed tour and plenty of time to visit with some old friends.
Brick Works was where I was introduced to garlic scapes last year. For the uninitiated, these are the green shoots that grow from a garlic bulb and are snapped off to allow the plant to focus on developing it`s tasty bulb. They are similar to a green onion (though they are solid the whole way through) and are milder than traditional garlic. You can use them in salads, pesto`s, soups and stir-frys. I love that you can eat them raw and that you can subject them to a much higher heat than the tender flesh of garlic without burning them bitter.
I selected a few bunches to make a pesto and ran into a local farmer and friend who mentioned that people are pickling them. With my spidey senses tingling, we filled a collapsible grocery bag full. I won`t profile the farm in this post lest people latch on and expect a deal – _ certainly didn`t expect one. He charged $4 for the whole lot (they are usually about $2-$3 for 10). There must have been 150 scapes in the bag and I am most thankful. We kept them cool in the fridge before the pickling begin. The photo below shows our abundance of scapes (the `coaster` below the pot is more than 12 inches across). The golden rule of preserving: it always makes a lot less than you think.
The first step was to wash them – a somewhat tedious task that took no more than 10 minutes.
Next up was to chop them to bite-sized bits and remove the stringy ends (we`ll use them later in this post – they are simply too fragile to make much of a pickle with):
We got out the preserving equipment, added our brine and other goodies and sealed them in a hot water bath (this brine is pretty much pure vinegar and the acidity should be enough to not require a pressure cooker to seal):
We took the remaining ends, added a few extra scapes, some green onion and olive oil and made a light version of pesto that will be frozen to add to soups and stir frys in the winter months:
We put the pesto in single-use portions in freezer bags and rolled to let any trapped air escape and they are currently freezing in our cold box:
Total yield was 11 bags of pest (about a half cup each) and 5.5 cups of pickled scape (4-1 cup jars, 3-half cup jars).
The recipe will have to remain a secret – which is not like us. As you will find in our posts on preserving, the best advice is not to experiment with recipes. There is a lot of complexity involved in the science that is preserving and changing ingredients is a very risky thing. We could not find a tested recipe to trust and used the brine from a pickled garlic recipe that I have (the liquid is more than 5% acidity in the jar and we`ll ensure the scape is fully `drunk`). I am confident and comfortable in eating these and looking forward to them!
The entire process was about 90 minutes for one-person. I can`t wait to taste the results and will wait at least 6 weeks before crackign the first seal – I do suspect that these will really hit their stride by mid-fall and should make an appearance over the Christmas Holidays.