June 20, 2014
The Solstice is tomorrow and garlic harvest is in full swing. We’ve lifted the Rocomboles and Turbans, bracing ourselves for the big Inchelium Red harvest. But the weeks leading up to harvest when you’re a garlic grower are filled with garlic scapes. those curly top-sets on hard stem garlic varieties. We’ve always snapped bushels full to sell at markets, enticing folks with delicious garlic flavor while we’re all waiting, waiting for the new crop to come on. Many recipes have evolved to utilize these seasonal treats, from garlic scape pesto and garlic scape soup, to adding chopped scapes to stir-fries and pasta dishes. I like to call them “easy garlic” because there’s no peeling involved. Just chop and use.
But now we’re fermentation junkies. When farmers become fermenters, they ferment just about everything, or at least give it a go. A few weeks ago when we had about 14 crates of garlic scapes, we took the advice of our neighbor and fer-mentor (ha!) Kirsten Shockey, co-author of the great new book Fermented Vegetables, soon to be released by Storey Press. She suggested fermented garlic scape paste. A couple of years ago we made an awesome garlic paste but never did it again as our worker was peeling garlic all day to come up with enough for a 2-gallon crock. So garlic scape paste sounded great! Easy! Rinse, chop, put through the food processor, salt and crock. A friend and I made 8 gallons worth in about 4 hours. It’s still in the “cave” but I’ve snitched a taste and it’s sweet and wonderful, just like regular fermented garlic paste. All the better for being quick, using something we typically throw away (there’s only so many garlic scapes we can sell in our markets), and is more cool and exotic and seasonal than plain ol’ garlic. In a couple of weeks we’ll jar it up and get it on the shelf. Just in time for the grand opening of our new on-farm store!