Japanese Pickled Garlic Scapes

Pickles, Tapas, Vegetables

Pickled Garlic Scape 01

Garlic scapes, or garlic spears, represent the birth of a flower. They whip out of the tall garlic plant, curling and facing downward in crane-like grace, awaiting the moment of bloom. As a gardener and cultivator of garlic bulbs, I carry the painful duty of decapitating them, forcing the energy of the sun back underground. This difficult act obliges me to make what use I can from the heads, as I would an animal, such as a pig. Coupled with my recent attraction to Japanese flavors, I attempt to–and, pardon the pun–give a bit more body to these severed heads.

**I ought to add that harvesting garlic scapes too late may almost certainly result in stringiness. You can diminish this by boiling them for up to 30 minutes, depending on their size. It is best to snip these while the plants are still young.**

  • 250 g. garlic scapes (also called garlic spears, sold at some markets in spring and summer)
  • 10 g. ginger, peeled, sliced (about a 3-inch knob)
  • 6 g. konbu (about 1 8-inch strip), cut into 2- or 3-inch pieces
  • 4 green shiso leaves
  • 1-1/2 cups water
  • 1-1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup mirin
  • 2 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 5 tsp. sea salt

Pickled Garlic Scape 02

Get your sterilized canning jars ready. I used two 32-oz Kerr jars.

If the garlic scapes are tough, blanch for a couple minutes in salted water. Shock in an ice bath. I did this to tenderize them.

In a saucepan, bring the ginger, water, rice wine vinegar, mirin, sugar and salt to a boil. Taste and adjust flavors–sour, salty, sweet–as you prefer. Turn off heat and add the konbu. Let sit 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, rub and crush the shiso leaves, distributing them equally into the bottom of each jar. Stuff in the cold garlic scapes. Remove the konbu and ginger, evenly distributing them throughout the jars. Finish by pouring the brine inside the jars. If you need more brine, add more vinegar and/or water, depending on preference. Seal and let sit overnight before refrigerating.

Wait ten days before opening and serving, although a few months will allow the subtle flavors or the konbu and shiso to open more.

Pickled Garlic Scape 03

3 thoughts on “Japanese Pickled Garlic Scapes

  1. Hi, tried your recipe this weekend. I was very excited to find a Japanese take on the pickled garlic scrapes. But I just wanted to report back that I think your liquid measurements are a bit off for a 16 oz jars. I followed everything, and even some of liquid spilled, but I was still left with lots extra. Hope that helps. I can’t wait to try them in 10 days. 🙂 Thanks again.

    1. Hi! It intrigues me that you had so much liquid left. After filling my two jars, I had to tap them off with a little water because I was just shy of the brim. Did you use the same weight in garlic scapes? I will check again, though. Either way, too much brine just means more opportunity to pickle! Let me know what you think. If you have any suggestions, I would love to hear them. Happy tsukemono!

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