I know that I’ve mentioned garlic scapes a couple of times in the past couple of weeks. It just occurred to me that some of my readers may not know what a garlic scape is. So today I’ll talk briefly about garlic scapes. What they are and what they are used for.
A garlic scape is just the stem of the flower of a garlic plant. Around early June, hardneck garlic will send up a solid shoot. At the top of this shoot is a flower. The flower stalk will come out of the top of the garlic plant leaves. It starts out in a graceful arc. The scape is often a lighter green than the leaves and the flower bud will be almost white.
Left alone, the scape will straighten up and grow almost straight up. I’ve never left a garlic flower bloom, but the flower ends up being a cluster of flowers. Maybe I’ll allow a flower to bloom this year. The problem with allowing the flowers to bloom is that it causes the garlic bulb to be smaller than it otherwise would be. So most garlic growers remove the scape.
Up until this year, I would cut the scapes from the garlic plant where it touched the leaves. But the other day I was reading The Walden Effect and Anna suggested that instead of cutting the scape, pull the scape out of the garlic plant. By doing this, I ended up with a larger scape, but it is also more tender. So for now on I’ll pull the scapes out of the garlic plant.
To prepare the scape, cut off the flower portion of the scape. This is pappery and not good to eat. Last year, the only way that I ate scapes was grilled. I tossed them in olive oil, shook on salt and pepper and grilled them with whatever else I was grilling.
I found out this year that my wife isn’t crazy about scapes by themselves. So I have been cooking them with other ingredients. A couple of days ago, I stir fried them with the Chicken Pasta Toss. She really liked the scapes cooked into dishes, so this year, that’s the main way we have eaten them.
I also tried pickling scapes. I still haven’t tried them. As with most pickles, the tastes require a week or so to meld together. I’m hoping that they are good. I’d hate to “waste” scapes on something that I don’t like.
I guess I should say how they taste. I feel that they are a lot like garlicy green beans. The texture is of a green bean. They do not have an overpowering garlic taste, it is very subtle.
Needless to say, I like scapes. I like them so much that I only grow hardneck garlic. Softneck garlic does not send up scapes. So check out your local farmers market to see if they carry scapes. You will not regret it.