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Pickling leek tops

(post, Linda Ziedrich)

While happily munching pickled garlic scapes — budding flower stalks, that is — at the Portland restaurant Evoe, my daughter suggested I try pickling some scapes of the many leeks going to seed in my garden. 

I had never eaten leek tops before, and the garlic tops at Evoe were a little tough for my taste. Besides, the length and rigidity of either garlic or leek scapes would make them hard to pickle in small quantity; you’d need a very big jar, which you’d want to fill well to avoid wasting vinegar. 

(A big jar full of erect scapes was sitting, in fact, on the restaurant counter.) 

But I wondered: What if I blanched my scapes before pickling them? That might make them tender enough to suit my taste and limp enough to curl into a small jar. 

So here’s what I made the next day: Quick-Pickled Leek Scapes. 

[%image reference-image float=right width=400 caption="Linda's pickled leek scapes."]As you can see in the photo, I used a bulbous 1-liter Weck jar for this pickle, because even blanched, the scapes were too stiff for a narrower container. The jar could have held twice as many scapes (if you want to pickle more, just increase the other ingredients accordingly). 

The texture of the scapes was just right, and I loved the licorice-like note of the tarragon, though it was a little too strong for my husband. Next time I might try black pepper and fresh dill instead.

[%image leeks float=left width=300 caption="The flowering leeks in Linda's garden, July 2009."]

I took care, by the way, to leave plenty of leeks to flower in the garden. While pickled scapes are a pretty garnish for the table, flowering leeks are more striking still, and you can save the seeds for planting next year.

p(blue). Culinate editor's note: This post also appeared on Linda Ziedrich's blog, A Gardener's Table.

reference-image, l

leeks, l