The best garlic scapes recipes to inspire you to pick up a bunch at the farmer’s market.
Weather aside, spring is my favourite food time of the year. There are so many new exciting things at the farmers market.
In Canada we come out of the lull of root vegetables and bland tomatoes to vegetables bursting with flavour.
ALSO READ: Guide to Foraging Edible Plants
But I didn’t always know what they were and I once avoided garlic scapes because I had no idea what to do with them.
If you feel the same way have no fear, this post shares everything I wish I had known and 13 great garlic scapes recipes from fantastic cooks.
What are Garlic Scapes?
Garlic scapes are the flower stalks of hardneck that literally shoot out the top and gets so long that it curls.
They are a byproduct of garlic that has become a delicacy of its own.
They are sometimes mistakenly called green garlic. But green garlic are the greens that appear from the plant much earlier on in spring.
They are also fantastic so also check out these green garlic recipes.
But back to garlic scapes!
Scapes appear on garlic just before it is mature. It appears about 3 weeks before the garlic is ready to harvest.
It’s the flower bud that is removed so that the plant’s energy can instead go to making the garlic bulb larger.
You can find them at farmer’s markets and Asian supermarkets, but it’s rare to see them in a mainstream grocery store unless you have a really great one.
Other names for garlic scapes
- garlic stems,
- garlic stalks
- serpent garlic
- garlic shoots
- garlic spears stalks
Hardneck vs Softneck Garlic
If you are from the southern United States it is likely you’ve never seen garlic scapes.
The original garlic is hardneck and is grown in cooler regions, like Canada and northeastern United States.
Softneck garlic was created so warmer regions like the United States could also grow garlic. Unfortunately it does not grow scapes.
What Do Garlic Scapes Taste Like?
Garlic scapes taste like garlic, but a much more mild flavour. They are almost slightly sweet and have a fresh taste
It has a delicate spring flavour similar that some people compare to green onion, chives or wild ramps, although ramps taste like onion and garlic scapes have a garlicky flavour.
They can easily be used raw because the flavour isn’t overpowering.
It’s a hardy green, almost like asparagus and can be simply cut thinly and used raw to garnish salads, scrambled eggs, soups such as this Nova Scotia hodge podge and meat.
It’s also fantastic raw in a compound butter and you could also use the tender ends in this green garlic potato salad. Just substitute the green garlic for garlic scapes.
Garlic scapes recipes also include using the plant grilled or cooked, to give it a rich flavour for many dishes.
Cooking garlic scapes on the grill is easy and makes serving dishes extra special, like this salsa verde grilled steak.
And pickled garlic scapes maintain a bright spring flavour you can enjoy all year.
Can You Eat the Entire Garlic Scape?
Yes the entire garlic scape is edible.
However, many garlic scape recipes will indicate which part of the plant you can use.
That’s because some of it is rather tender but if its older it can get a bit woody.
Also the area near the flower bulb to its point can be a bit tough and fibrous.
Some people just get rid of it. However, you can blend it easily into a puree, just don’t use it raw.
When is Garlic Scape Season?
Depending on how far north you are, and how warm spring has been, garlic scape season is generally May through July.
They appear around the same time you start seeing wild ramps at the farmers market.
How to Store Garlic Scapes?
The first year I bought them I had no idea what to do with them other than to make garlic scape pesto.
I mean isn’t that the default for every spring plant when you don’t know what to do with them?
But I didn’t know what else to do and I procrastinated looking for garlic scapes recipes online. I left them too long in the fridge and they were unusable.
Learn from my mistakes!
Buying Garlic Scapes
Don’t be afraid to handle them. You want bright green scapes that feel firm but not too woody.
Put Garlic Scapes in the Refrigerator
They will last at least a week in the fridge – some people say two weeks. Store them as you would fresh herbs, by putting an inch of water in a glass and setting them in it.
Change the water daily – which will also remind you to use them while they are fresh.
If you don’t have room in the fridge, put them in a cool area in your house. But keep them away from light.
If you don’t think you can use them in the first week or two garlic scapes also freeze well.
How to Freeze Garlic Scapes
If you’re using garlic scapes recipes that require them to be cooked or blended like many pesto recipes, or scape soup it’s possible to freeze them.
Like all frozen vegetables they lose some crispness so plan accordingly.
But do it when then are the most fresh, to preserve the flavour.
Clean them with water and dry. Then chop to whatever size works for you. You can freeze in a plastic freezer bag.
When stored properly, garlic scapes should last up to 6 months in the freezer.