Harvesting garlic scapes is an essential part of growing garlic. In the late spring, they emerge out of the top of the garlic plant and slowly start to coil. For farmers and gardeners, removing the scapes at the right time not only sends more energy and nutrients to other parts of the plant, but it sends a signal to the bulb that it’s time to start bulking up to get ready for the coming harvest. Scapes are the stem and flower bud of the garlic plant. If left unattended, they will eventually open up and flower.
When they’re young and tender, the scapes look like long curly green beans, with tightly closed buds on top. But scapes offer a great alternative to garlic bulbs early in the season. They are like an herb, vegetable and aromatic all in one.
Garlic scapes kind of taste like a cross between scallions, onion, and garlic, with the consistency of asparagus. They are typically less intense that garlic cloves and have a fresher, greener taste.
They store well in the crisper drawer. You can put them in a plastic bag, but be sure not to completely close the bag. They will last for a few weeks in the fridge. This is the only time of year they will be available, so if you really like them, you might want to consider preserving them. You can pickle them. Make pesto and freeze it. Or even just chop them up and freeze them in a zip lock bag.
Scapes are really easy to prep. Most of the time, the tips of the scapes will have a little bulb on it. Snip off the tips and the bulb, run the scapes under some water to get rid of any dirt and chop up the scapes to whatever length you’d like. If you gently crush them, using the side of your knife, it will release more flavor and aroma while cooking.
Scapes can be eaten raw in salads. You can saute, stir-fry, bake, roast, or grill them. We highly recommend trying them on the grill, like asparagus. Or use them just like you would garlic cloves. Our favorites are on salads, pizza, eggs, in stir-frys, and of course PESTO!