• Garlic Scapes – Why To Cut and How To Cook

    by  • June 20, 2013 • Local Food, What's Growing • 7 Comments

    garlic scape heart

    At heart, I am a skeptical, lazy gardener. I question old-school farming practices, especially if they require me to work harder. I want evidence that I should do this or that to make my plants happy.

    Every year I test a few traditional garden concepts, like removing tomato suckers, to find out whether they really benefit the plant’s production. (I find no evidence that removing suckers is anything but suckers’ work.) Two years ago, I used my garlic patch as a trial for the standard practice of removing the garlic scape to encourage bulb production.

    Should You Cut Scapes?

    Garlic scapes are the flower stalk of the garlic plant. The theory behind removing them is that by taking away the flower bud, the plant will put more energy into bulb production. Look below to see the difference between garlic with scapes removed on the right and those allowed to flower on left of plants grown in the same location and with same growing practices.

    garlic scapes comparisonClearly, scapes to inhibit bulb production. When removed, the garlic produces healthier, bigger bulbs. Because the scapes are edible, the gardener is rewarded for their work of removing the scape with a tasty food.

    How To Eat Garlic Scapes

    The garlic scape stalk is a dense cylinder of garlic-flavored goodness. At this time of year, I stop buying garlic and use chopped up fresh scapes for all my garlic needs. I add them to stir fry, soups, stocks, and pickles.

    Garlic scapes are traditionally made into pesto by pureeing the scape with fresh herbs, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Garlic scape pesto can be used as a sauce for pasta, spread for sandwiches, or mixed with sour cream for a dip.

    Store scapes in the fridge for up to two weeks. Alternatively, put freshly-cut ends in a container of water and keep at room temperature for a few days where you can enjoy the shapes. As a last resort, give one to your child to use as a magic wand or a sword! Lil, seen here a few years ago, love to play with scapes.

    lil and scape wand

    If you don’t grow your own garlic but want to experiment with scapes, visit your local farmers’ market. Farmers are only too happy to sell their edible plant pickings. Come see me at the Swainway/Northridge booth at Clintonville this weekend for organic Ohio scapes.

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    I live to eat and eat to live, planning every meal to include as much local and seasonal abundance as possible. My favorite color is purple, my favorite vegetable is whatever is fresh and local, and my favorite drink is whatever you're pouring. Follow me @racheltayse


    7 Responses to Garlic Scapes – Why To Cut and How To Cook

    1. tash
      June 20, 2013 at 12:13 pm

      I got some from Granny B’s when I was there last. I put them in a casserole type dish. I heard they can be frozen which is probably what I will do with the rest to use in soup in the winter. I will wash and cut them so all I have to do is throw them in from frozen.

    2. June 20, 2013 at 12:46 pm

      Mmm, I love scapes! We use them in pesto, or we chop them and toss them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and then grill them.

    3. July 5, 2013 at 9:18 am

      Thanks for the post. I’m growing garlic this year, and had the same question. I live a bit more north than you, in the great state of Ohio. When do you typically harvest your garlic. I’m eager, to get at my bulbs.

      • July 5, 2013 at 6:05 pm

        Garlic is typically ready to harvest when the leaves turn brown. Pull it out of the ground and let it dry thoroughly if you can wait that long!

      • July 5, 2013 at 6:07 pm

        Just checked out your caramel site and saw tart cherry caramels – really? Those sound amazing!! I’m putting them on my birthday list.

        • July 6, 2013 at 10:02 am

          They are pretty great Rachel. Thanks for the garlic advice.

    4. mali nicholls
      August 7, 2013 at 3:29 am

      i do not have a web site as i am small garden grower.
      thanks Rachel for your advice i will use all my garlic flowers
      why do you call the m scraps.
      by the way how do i use courgette, flowers i have pleanty of flowers and no fruits.
      thanks again

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