It’s garlic scape season here in joene’s garden … one of the best perks of growing garlic.
Scapes are the flowering shoots of garlic bulbs. They wind and curl around tall, straight garlic leaves and will go to flower and eventually produce garlic seed, so if your goal is to harvest garlic bulbs, cut the scapes off when they begin to curl.
Use the scapes as an interesting indoor bouquet, which my favorite photographer then used for a photo shoot (above). As long as provided with fresh water daily, you can use these over a week or two. Their clean, fresh, gentle flavor adds a mild garlic taste to pesto, stir-fry, salsa or in any dish you would normally add garlic. Thin garlic scape slices with lemon juice add a wonderful flavor to baked fish. I like to blend the tender tips of scapes with a little olive oil until the consistency of a thick milk shake, then pour the mix into ice cube trays, freeze, and package as cubes to add to winter soups, stews, chili, and tomato sauce.
As noted, the scapes keep well as a bouquet for about a week when provided fresh water daily. To hold them longer, place scapes in a container of water in the refrigerator. They will hold there for up to a month when provided with fresh water every couple of days.
Those who preserve by home canning may try pickled garlic scapes. I have not tried this yet, but it’s on my lengthy to-do.
The scapes in my garden grow from fall-planted garlic, known as winter garlic, as the bulbs over-winter in the ground, begin to grow in early spring for mid-summer harvesting and curing. This type of garlic keeps well through winter. Spring planted garlic acts similarly but does not keep as well.
If you don’t grow garlic in your own garden, watch for garlic scapes at a local farmers’ market.
Share how you use garlic scapes … I’m always looking for new ways to use and preserve them.