Garlic scapes: sounds like something Oliver Twist would eat. But, wouldn't you know, it's not exclusive to orphaned beggers from English Literature.
I came across garlic scapes during my nightly garden reading. My current gardening read, Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener's Handbook, had this to say about them:
The health benefits of garlic are frequently ballyhooed in the popular press; recently, we read an article stating that garlic helps reduce high blood pressure and also preserves youthful complexions. The first benefit has been pretty well documented in scientific literature, but we're not so sure about the latter effect.
Perhaps in response to its health-promoting effects, more and more gardeners are growing garlic. Most new garlic growers realize that the bulbs will be ready for harvest when plant tops have begun to turn yellow or brown. However, we'd guess that few appreciate the special treat awaiting them right now.
Hardneck varieties of garlic have begun sending up their so-called flower stalks or scapes. We say "so-called flower" stalks because garden-variety garlic plants do not flower but instead send up a stalk that eventually produces small bulbets at the tip. These bulbets, by the way, can be eaten or you can plant them in the fall.
As a scape first elongates, it forms a curl. Later the scape straightens and toughens. In the curled stage, scapes are tender and have a subtle garlic flavor without the bite of mature garlic cloves. When cut from plants, garlic scapes can be sauteed, steamed, or chopped for salads, egg dishes, and stir-fries. We also use the scapes as a base in making a robust vegetable stock.
Nowadays, many vegetable growers are selling garlic scapes at farmers' markets. A few years ago most growers cut the scapes - to promote better garlic bulb development - and left them in the field to rot. Times have changed; garlic scapes are now considered a gourmet delight.
The scapes pictured above are from my mom's garden. I had the opportunity to share a little bit of my recently-acquired knowledge about scapes only a day after reading about them. It seemed synchronistic; I'd never heard of them before and then I run into them the next morning.
I didn't plant any garlic for harvest this year, but I'm likely going to plant my first batch this fall. Next year, I'll have loopy little scapes all over the place. Because that sounds whimsical and whimsy is delightful. I like to set myself up for experiencing joy. Personally, I think that's important.
Do you have use your garlic scapes as a food? What do you do with them?
I'm a big fan of pesto, so when I came across this recipe on The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen, I set it aside as something to try whenever I harvest my own scapes (or with my mom, if she's willing).
If you happen to try this recipe out, leave a comment and tell me how it went. I love comparing notes (especially because I have such perfect handwriting, I get a chance to gloat).
Or, let's say you don't feel like making pesto (this can happen, right?):
Would you be interested in a Garlic Scape Tart?
Or how about you just up 'n pickle 'em?
If you have any recipes of your own, feel free to share! I'm always looking for easy ways to prepare fresh produce (even if I don't use every recipe, I like having them "just in case").
Interested in garlic scapes but don't have any in your own garden? Hit up the farmers' market! (You can never go wrong there.)
(PS: That Veggie Gardener's book? Not an affiliate link. Just sharing the goods.)
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