In Season Now: Garlic Scapes

Much like frisée, garlic scapes seem to inspire a lot of fear and skepticism at the farmers market.

But instead of eying those tangly, green shoots with mistrust the next time you see them on a stand, I’d recommend snatching up as many as you can.

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“What exactly is a garlic scape, anyways?” you might be asking at this point. Here’s a brief tutorial.

Garlic grows underground as a bulb. In its early stage, the bulb is soft and onion-like, but as it grows, it gets harder and pokes a shoot through the ground. Later on this shoot develops into a flower stalk that is the garlic scape. Harvesting the scape helps the garlic plant put more of its energy into the bulb (and become the garlic that we all know).

If you are growing garlic at home, you should harvest the scapes while they are young and tender, before they start to curl.

Garlic scapes taste like, well, garlic. They have a lot less bite than garlic cloves but retain all of garlic’s yummy flavor. What makes garlic scapes so fun is that they have the texture and color of green beans, making them an exciting addition to scrambled eggs, pastas, stir fries, pesto, and dips.

To cook garlic scapes simply, chop them into bite-size bits and then saute them in oil or butter until tender and fragrant (about 3-5 minutes).

Image courtesy of krossbow via a Creative Commons license.

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About the Author

I'm an ecologist turned journalist turned farmer-in-training. I'm currently working on an organic farm and creamery in Illinois. Follow me on twitter (http://twitter.com/rachelshulman), friend me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=3105709), or follow me on StumbleUpon (http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/RachelShulman/).
  • That bundle of garlic scapes, in the wooden basket, look so fresh and ready cook

  • Scapes actually only form on stiff neck garlic.

  • Guest

    In looking for scape recipes, this is the second post I have read that says that the scape is the shoot that pokes up from the ground. It is NOT. The scape grows much later at the top of the plant from between the leaves, and if left on the plant produces the flower (and seeds). It is removed so more energy goes into developing a large bulb. If you are growing garlic, do not pick the initial shoot coming up from the ground after planting.

    • Thanks for this correction! You're totally right, the garlic scape is not the first shoot that pokes up from the ground. I've edited the post to hopefully provide more accurate information!

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