Garlic scapes, also sometimes called garlic stems, stalks, shoots or spears, are the flower stalks that hardneck garlic plants produce before the bulbs mature.
About three weeks before the garlic bulb is ready for harvesting, it sends up a flower stalk. The stalk grows upwards for several inches then will curl once or twice before continuing to grow upward. Removing this stalk, or garlic scape allows the plant to devote its energy into growing a larger bulb of garlic.
The garlic scape is edible and has a lovely, mild garlic flavor with a hint of sweetness. The scape is most tender, with almost an asparagus-like texture when it is curling. It left on too long, it becomes more firm and woody. I harvest mine all at once at the curly state by cutting the scape at the bottom where it meets the last leaf of the plant.
Garlic scapes are a much anticipated and enjoyed harvest that usually occurs mid-June in my area. This is commonly the time we are in a garlic rut. Usually the stored garlic from last year has dwindled and I try to resist the garlic growing in the garden to allow it to reach its full potential. Garlic scapes fill in that gap and can be used as a replacement for garlic in most recipes.
I usually reserve half of the garlic scape harvest to enjoy fresh. They last a long time in the refrigerator. I use the scapes in stir fry, sautéed in olive oil and used as a pizza topping, or grilled as a side dish. Roasting particularly brings out the sweetness of garlic flavor.
Preserving Garlic Scapes to Enjoy All Year
The rest of the garlic scape harvest is preserved to benefit from later. The first method I use to preserve the mild flavor of garlic scapes is to make and freeze as pesto. Once thawed, the pesto can be used as a dip, pizza topping, or as a pasta sauce.
Garlic Scape Pesto
1 cup garlic scapes (about 8 or 9), top flower part removed, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
Place scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and process until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until mixed. With a rubber spatula, scoop pesto out of bowl and into a mixing bowl. Mix in parmesan cheese by hand. Makes about 6 ounces of pesto. Pesto will keep for up to one week in an airtight container in the refrigerator or place in zipper bags and freeze.
Chop and Freeze
Another method I use to savor the mild garlic scape flavor, is to chop them into 1-inch pieces and freeze in zipper freezer bags. This makes it easy to grab a handful of garlic scapes and add them to soups, stews, stir fry, or anywhere else that you would use garlic. The garlic scapes hold up really well to freezing and remain firm.
Wondering what to do with garlic scapes? Try some of these recipes shared by fellow bloggers:
- Pickled Garlic Scapes by Grow a Good Life
- Garlic Scape Pesto / Dip by Learning and Yearning
- Garlic Scape Pistachio Pesto Hummus by Farm Fresh Feasts
- Daphne’s Garlic Scape Dressing by Daphne’s Dandelions
- Mushroom Medley Scape Soup (raw vegan paleo) by Jar O Honey
- Shrimp and Garlic Scape Scampi by Farm Fresh Feasts
- Garlic Scape Pesto Cheesy Flatbread Pizza by Farm Fresh Feasts
- Roasted or Grilled Garlic Scapes with Sea Salt by With Food + Love
- Garlic Scape Pesto with Pine Nuts by One Beet
- Chicken Garlic Scape Soup with Purple Potatoes & Asparagus by Nutrients You Fools
Need even more ideas? Farm Fresh Feasts has a roundup of Garlic Scape recipes:
28 Recipes Using Garlic Scapes (Recipe Round Up) by Farm Fresh Feasts