Though people have been pickling garlic scapes (blooms and stems) for centuries, I may be the first to try the traditional Italian method of doing so with so-called Elephant Garlic. It’s really a type of leek, but it was renamed Elephant Garlic by the person who rediscovered it, the owner of the Nichol’s Nursery, out in Oregon. They also reintroduced it to the commercial market.
It has naturalized itself in my semi-abandoned veg garden, which was left dormant after two record breaking droughts. Now three alliums are taking over, including softneck garlic and Rakkyo, the famous Japanese delicacy. We are gradually bringing back other crops, and have a nice patch of potatoes coming on. But to keep the place from being overrun with Elephant Garlic, I have begun harvesting some of the scapes. The recipe is very simple.
Elephant Garlic (or Garlic) Scapes
Cook the scapes for five minutes or so, in the salted vinegar. Then bottle them in olive oil and let age a day on the counter, and a week in the fridge. Be aware that they have a short shelf life, so eat them in a week or so.
The taste of Elephant Garlic is intermediate between Garlic and a Leek. It is a plant that requires eternal vigilance, to keep it from overtaking your property.