Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Hi, everyone!  I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to post.  Things have been pretty busy around here.  However, just because I didn’t post doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything to blog about!  The last couple of months have been filled with exciting projects and even more exciting produce.

For instance, at the end of June, the Garden held an (E)scape party – a party for pickling scapes!  At the same time, we made pesto from the vast quantities of arugula we harvested and the garlic leftover from last year.  I’ve posted both recipes below, in case you ever find yourself overwhelmed by either of these vegetables. 
Brent and Cedar with garlic from the garden

The canning apparatus (to the right)
I’ve never canned before, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to try my hand at it, under the knowledgeable guidance of Brent.  The whole process is pretty extensive, but it’s a wonderful way to make sure you’re eating your own vegetables all year round!  The procuedure breaks down into several distinct steps: washing, chopping, preparing the brine, blanching, filling, and sealing.
Washing the scapes

The biggest concern with canning at home is preventing growth of the bacterium Clostridium botulinum from occurring after you’ve sealed your jars shut.  C. botulinum is a nasty little bug that .  It colonizes the gut, leading to respiratory and musculoskeletal paralysis.  That's why it's so important to start with very, very clean mason jars (we washed ours thoroughly before using them).
Clean mason jars

Blanching in brine
Fortunately, the bug can be destroyed by boiling for a few minutes and by keeping the pH of your brine within a certain range.  Blanching the scapes for a minute takes care of both of these steps, cooking the bacteria and ensuring an even pH both inside and outside the vegetable; thus, blanching is a key step in the canning process. 

The scapes, in all their glory
After blanching the scapes in our brine, we packed them as tightly as possible into mason jars.  Then, we filled the remaining space in the jars with brine, knocking out all the air bubbles we could find. 

Finally, we closed the jars by placing them in boiling water until a seal was created  under the lids.  

Voila – pickled scapes!  

Garlic Scapes
Pickling brine and process instructions

Brine ingredients:
4                cups                           apple cider vinegar
3                cups                           water
1½            cups                           sugar
3                Tablespoons            kosher salt
as needed                                    spices

1)     Wash and cut garlic scapes into jar-length segments, keeping the straight pieces and curved pieces separate.
2)     Pre-heat the jars and lids.
3)     Mix brine ingredients and bring to a boil. Add spices to brine, if desired.
4)     Test the brine pH (should be ≤ 3.9).
5)     Blanch the scapes in the brine: boil one minute.
6)     Remove the scapes and strain the spices out of the brine, if used.
7)     Pack the scapes into clean warm jars. Curl the curved portions on the outer part of the jar, and put the straight portions in the center of the jar.
8)     Top off the jars within 1/2” of the top with hot brine.
9)     Seal the jars finger tight.
10)   Process the jars in a boiling water canner: quarts for 15 minutes, and pints for 10 minutes.
11)    Allow the jars to cool before handling.
12)    Test the equilibrium pH; it should be ≤ 3.9.
Arugula or Spinach Pesto, for freezing

6          Cups                 Packed leaves
18         Cloves               Minced garlic, cooked
3          Cloves               Minced garlic
1½        Cup                  Olive oil
1½        teaspoon            salt
as needed                        ground black pepper

1)     Wash the leaves and shake dry.
2)     Cook the garlic in a small amount of olive oil. Do not brown.
3)     Combine the leaves, salt, raw and cooked garlic, and pepper in a food processor. Pulse the blade while slowly adding the oil, until well emulsified. Do not puree the pesto!
4)     Pack neatly in gallon bags, until the bag is about 1” thick.
5)     Freeze quickly.

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