Here are several naturally plant-based easy ways to use garlic scapes to take full advantage of their brief season. Garlic scapes (sometimes called garlic spears) are among the earliest of spring produce to appear in home gardens and farmers markets. The long, curled shoots are remarkably tasty and best used simply to highlight their unique qualities.
Scapes are quite versatile and simple to use. One of the most popular ways to use them is in deeply flavorful pesto. You can pickle and preserve them in several ways; they’re fantastic in stir-fries and prepared on the grill.
What are garlic scapes?
Simply put, scapes are the flower bud and stem of the hardneck garlic plant, the most common type grown in North America. They shoot out from the garlic bulb, and since they grow so long, they begin to curl.
For those who grow garlic in the home garden or produce farms, it’s important to cut off the scapes, otherwise the bulb will end up puny and lacking in flavor. The scapes are usually harvested in late spring and early summer; then the plant is free to put its energy toward the garlic bulbs. These are generally harvested in late summer.
Where to buy
The season for scapes is short, and you generally won’t find them in the supermarket. Asian produce markets and farmer’s markets in the spring might be your best bets for local shopping. You can also search for where to buy them online in season as well. I even saw them being offered on Etsy!
If you love this delicacy and have a small plot, you might want to try growing it yourself.Here’s a tutorial on how to grow garlic, which, early in the season, will yield your delicious scapes.
Storing & freezing
Stored in a plastic bag, scapes will keep in the refrigerator for several days after harvesting.
As far as freezing goes, that’s easy. Simply cut the scape stalk into 2- to 3-inch pieces and place in a freezer bag. There’s no need to blanch, and this will extend your scape season at least a little.
Thanks to the talented bloggers who participated in this roundup for permission to use their photo and link to their recipes.
Pickled Garlic Scapes: From Running to the Kitchen, this no-canning recipe for pickled scapes is the easiest and quickest way to enjoy these tangy summer-time delights! They make a delicious addition to almost any kind of meal.
Garlic Scape Infused Olive Oil: From Confessions of an Overworked Mom, who says that this delicious scape-infused olive oil is her favorite method of preserving them.
Oven-Roasted Garlic Spears: From The Good-Hearted Woman, this simple, flavorful recipe takes less than 10 minutes to throw together and makes a fresh, tasty side dish for any spring or summer meal.
Grilled Garlic Scapes: From Upstate Ramblings, throw some garlic scapes on the grill and enjoy tasty garlic spears with dinner! This recipe is simple and delicious.
Grilled Garlic Scapes and Summer Squash: From Heart Beet Kitchen, a recipe that pairs scapes with another seasonal vegetable. They’re absolutely delicious when tossed in olive oil and grilled with zucchini and/or summer squash. This simple side dish is a great addition to any weeknight meal!
Garlic scape pesto: The web is filled with garlic scape pesto recipes, most of which aren’t vegan (usually containing Parmesan cheese). There are a number of great exceptions, happily, with nutritional yeast swapped in for for the cheese. Vegan Garlic Scape Pesto from Vanilla and Bean features walnuts. Easy Vegan Garlic Scape Pesto from Mary’s Test Kitchen features lots of basil for a summery flavor.
Garlic scapes in stir-fries: Another easy use is to add scapes to stir-fries. Quickly cooked in a stir-fry pan with other vegetables, they look like green beans or long beans (and are similar in texture), but impart a subtle garlicky flavor. To add to any stir-fry, simply cut into 2-to 3-inch segments. Try Vegetarian Stir-Fried Garlic Scapes from Red Cook.
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