Along the Grapevine

The Greatest Scapes

15 Comments

scapes

In this part of the world it is scape season, and they are commonly found in markets, CSA boxes and if you grow hard neck garlic, in your own garden. They are the long shoots that bear the flower, and this should be removed from the plant when it appears and before the flower starts to open in order for the garlic to grow big and healthy.

My scapes are not quite there yet, but I did get an entire bushel from a kind neighbour who had a bit of a windfall. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I accepted them happily and then set to work.

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Scapes are a wonderful addition to the pantry in the winter. Milder than garlic, they can be added to just about any savoury dish. My usual routine is to make scape pesto, but this would have been a monumental task and required more nuts than I have. Also, I wanted to do things a bit differently this year. Considering convenience, space and of course taste, I came up with three ways to preserve them.

Freezing: Very simple, but a bit bulky, so I packed just a few bags. To freeze them, first remove the long bit on top of the flour. Chop the scapes into roughly 3 inch pieces which will make packing the bags easier. I then steamed them for about three minutes, just enough to heat them right through and kill any bacteria. Run under cold water and when cool, pack them tightly in bags and squeeze out as much air as you can.

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Drying: After removing the long bit again, chop into fine strips. I used the slicing bade of a food processor for this. Place in the dehydrator at 125 F or 52 C for about eight hours, or until they are thoroughly dried and crisp. Place in a jar and store in a cool dark cupboard.

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Fermenting: Remove the long bit and the flower. Put the flowers aside to be used later. One recipe for these follows, but they can be used to flavour soups, salads, sauces or whatever. They should not be fermented with the stalks as they are softer and will not hold up to the amount of fermentation required for the tougher stalks. I sliced the stalks as for the drying method so that they would be easier to spoon out, but if you want them larger or even whole, that is an option. Pack in a clean mason jar, pour brine over them (2 Tbsp salt dissolved in 1 litre of non-chlorinated water). To prevent them from coming into contact with air, I placed a few grape leaves on top and weighted them down. I used marbles. Place a clean cloth on top to prevent any foreign matter (like flies) getting in. They will take about five days to be ready to eat, but check periodically that none of the scapes have risen to the surface. With the grape leaves and the marbles, this is not likely to happen. The first few days, you will notice some bubbles coming to the surface. This is normal. When it subsides, after about five days, taste and see if it is fermenty enough for you. If so, cover and place in the fridge or other cool place. If you want it a little stronger, leave a day or two more. Remember that fermentation will continue as it ages but at a slower pace, so you should open the jar about once a week to allow any gas to escape.

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Scape flower butter: With the half cup of flowers I had left over from my fermented batch, I mixed them with an equal amount of butter, 2 Tbsp of olive oil and salt to taste. This all blended together made a delicious garlicky spread.

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The Greatest Scapes on Punk Domestics

Now I have enough scapes in different guises so that I can make pesto or whatever I like over the coming months, not to mention the scapes in my own garden I will have to contend with at a later date. Scapes anyone?

This time last year I posted: Plantain and Scape Pesto

Author: Hilda

I am a backyard forager who likes to share recipes using the wild edibles of our area.

15 thoughts on “The Greatest Scapes

  1. YES please Hilda! I loved this post. Scape flower butter. Wonderful….

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  2. I want to come visit you and see you in action🙂

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  3. Marbles to keep the scapes submerged is great. I’ve used them to top up wines, but hadn’t thought to hold down lacto-ferments with them.

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  4. My three favorite words in the universe: scape flower butter. So beautiful! I bet the dried scapes are a phenomenal crunchy snack. Is that how you enjoy them? We’re at the tail-end of scape season in these parts, and I’m really kicking myself for not planting any garlic this year, particularly since I haven’t been able to find a wild patch. Next year!

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    • Yes, the dried ones do make a good snack – sweeter than the fresh ones. We usually plant in October in this area, which means it doesn’t have to compete with all the things to be planted in the spring.

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  5. How timely! I’m eating garlic scape hummus as I read this. Now I think I’ll freeze some of them so I can make more at a future date.

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  6. I’m not sure what scapes are. If they are from the garlic family, or is young garlic, I have had them in a mixed Persian rice. If not, I would like to make a mixed Persian rice with it and serve it with roast beef. Yum!🙂

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    • Only the hard neck garlic has scapes, and I think maybe those are the ones that mostly grow in cold climates. If you see them, you will certainly recognize them – or ask at a market where they sell garlic. Hope you find some.

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  7. Hi, it is actually a kind of vegetable you can buy in a Korean supermarket in Korea. It is very seasonal and so special. You can just use them like greens. I like stir-frying them with fish cakes. I Just add a little bit of soy sauce and sesame oil. However, I like your ways to eat them as pure snack, too!

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