Garlic Scapes are a great way to get double the harvest out of your garlic plants! Learn how to harvest, prepare and use Garlic Scapes in your kitchen!
What are Garlic Scapes?
Garlic scapes are the shoot or stalk of the garlic hardneck bulbs. They are actually a flowering body. You’ll notice a bulge on the stalk–If left alone, a flower will grow from the bud. However, you do want to trim the garlic scapes in your garden. They can take away nutrients and energy from your garlic bulb, preventing the bulb from growing large and plump. If you’ve never seen these before, you may think they look similar to wild onions.
The good news about these garlic scapes is that they are edible. Garlic scapes are a great way to use a lesser known, but delicious, ingredient. They’re also a fantastic way to reduce food waste around your home and garden, while getting two different harvests from one garlic plant. The flavor is mildly garlicy while also being sweet and earthy. Garlic scapes can be enjoyed fried, grilled, sauteed or roasted. They can also be used in sauces, dressings or butters.
Where do you get garlic scapes?
If you are not growing your own garlic, you can get garlic scapes usually in your local farmer’s market. You may also be able to find them at more specialty grocery stores, but they are a seasonal item. You’ll usually only be able to find them in late spring to summer.
How to harvest garlic scapes?
Harvesting this little known flavor boosting stem is very simple. You want to aim for, on average, three weeks before you are planning on harvesting your garlic bulbs. For us, that’s around mid-June, but it may be different in your area. You’ll notice that the stalk will curl once or twice and then grow up.
I find that you get the best flavor from this stem if you cut it while it is growing in a curl. You can still enjoy them if you cut them a little later, but the texture will be a little more tough. The younger the scape is, the more tender it will be. I recommend harvesting before the bulb has flowered, but even if you are unable to cut them before then, I would still cut them off. They will keep your garlic bulb from growing to its full size.
How to cook garlic scapes?
Garlic scapes can be enjoyed in a number of different ways. They provide a nice garlic flavor to a dish, so you can substitute garlic scapes for garlic in a recipe. You can toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper and put them on the grill and enjoy a beautifully simple side dish. Add them on top of a pizza or flatbread for an interesting new flavor. You can also dice them up finely and use them in a stir fry with other vegetables from your garden. Garlic scapes are also tasty in your favorite egg dishes, or as a topping to a soup or salad.
For a garlic scape dressing, combine thinly sliced and sauteed scapes with olive oil, salt and lemon juice for a refreshing vinaigrette. If you have a food processor, add sauteed scapes to chickpeas and salt for a tasty homemade hummus or make a delicious pesto. You can also make garlic scape butter by combining butter and chopped scapes. If you’re a baker, fold them into your dough for a savory muffin or biscuit.
What do they taste like?
Garlic scape flavor can be described as similar to an onion but with a hint of garlic. They are often said to have an earthy or meaty flavor, while being very aromatic and slightly sweet. The flavor is not as strong as garlic, so there isn’t as much of a kick. The flavor is stronger when eaten raw, but when cooked it is not very different from roasted garlic. The texture is comparable to asparagus.
How to store garlic scapes?
Garlic scapes can be stored in the fridge in a plastic bag (that is left slightly open) for up to three weeks. You can also pickle garlic scapes, or skip the brine and simply can them. They will also hold up well in the freezer. If you are freezing, try to remove as much air from the bag as possible. Garlic scapes will be good in the freezer for up to six months.