For a large portion of my life, I had no idea that garlic scapes existed—like so many of the vegetables that are now a part of my regular pickling routine. My parents were regular users of garlic, but the fact that hard-neck garlic plants issued green curly growth in early spring was entirely unknown to us back then.
It wasn't until I joined a CSA in my mid-twenties that garlic scapes found their way to my plate. I started by chopping them up and using them in place of garlic cloves in sautéed greens. Soon, I was turned on to the idea of turning them into a very pungent, vividly green pesto (it's a delicious way to handle them, and I make a point of whizzing scapes into pesto for the freezer every spring).
A couple years ago, I finally took the plunge and spiraled a handful of scapes into a jar, added a few spices and vinegar and found that they made a most delightful pickle. In its finished form, it ends up tasting like a wonderfully garlicky dilly bean. If you like the combination of garlic and a snappy pickle, you'll be quite pleased with this one.
Before You Get Started
You won't find garlic scapes in your local grocery store. They tend to be a farmers' market or CSA-only item. If you struggle to get some, make sure to ask at a local market; it could be that a farmer will bring some in for you.
Garlic scapes are naturally curly. Because of this, they can be kind of hard to tame. I like to trim the straight sections into lengths that will fit into the jars. I either cut the curly sections into small pieces or I twirl them into the jars so they press again the inside wall.