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Garlic Scapes: A Culinary Treasure

Decorative Garlic ScapeEver notice the curly pig tailed shaped stem that tops hard neck garlic plants? It’s called a scape, and it appears about a month or so before it’s time to harvest those robust bulbs below. Scapes are soft, lime green, leafless and at the end of each of them is a tightly closed flower bud.

If you leave the scape on the plant a flower grows and blooms, which eventually produces hard seed. Since the bulbs are what we consume, garlic growers often cut off the scape, which prevents the flower from developing and draining nutrients from the plant. Removing the scape directs the plant to send its energy into the bulbs so that they continue to increase in size and flavor.

To cut off the scape wait until the center stalk completely forms and grows above the rest of the plant. It will begin to curl, make a loop and then turn upwards. At this stage, cut the scape off at the top of the plant leaving the central stalk and leaves behind.

What you’re left holding is a much sought after and treasured culinary delight – an aromatic herb and veggie all in one. Scapes are edible. They taste mild and sweet with a hint of the garlicky flavor that the bulb below ground promises. Use scapes in stir-fries, grill them up as a side dish, dress a salad or blend into a pesto to use on pasta, pizza and crackers. However you make use of the scapes, a delicious appetizer, lunch or supper surely awaits.

Garlic scapes keep in the fridge in a plastic zip bag for 2-3 weeks. They’ll stay fresh and look beautiful for a few days in a glass of cool water on the kitchen counter. Just remember to change the water daily.

They also make a fun addition to summer cut flowers too.

Oh, one more thing; not all scapes are ready at the same time, so visit your garlic patch often!

Ever notice the curly pig tailed shaped stem that tops hard neck garlic plants? It’s called a scape, and it appears about a month or so before it’s time to harvest those robust bulbs below. Scapes are soft, lime green, leafless and at the end of each of them is a tightly closed flower bud.

 

Decorative Garlic Scape

If you leave the scape on the plant a flower grows and blooms, which eventually produces hard seed. Since the bulbs are what we consume, garlic growers often cut off the scape, which prevents the flower from developing and draining nutrients from the plant. Removing the scape directs the plant to send its energy into the bulbs so that they continue to increase in size and flavor.

To cut off the scape wait until the center stalk completely forms and grows above the rest of the plant. It will begin to curl, make a loop and then turn upwards. At this stage, cut the scape off at the top of the plant leaving the central stalk and leaves behind.

What you’re left holding is a much sought after and treasured culinary delight – an aromatic herb and veggie all in one. Scapes are edible. They taste mild and sweet with a hint of the garlicky flavor that the bulb below ground promises. Use scapes in stir-fries, grill them up as a side dish, dress a salad or blend into a pesto to use on pasta, pizza and crackers. However you make use of the scapes, a delicious appetizer, lunch or supper surely awaits.

Garlic scapes keep in the fridge in a plastic zip bag for 2-3 weeks. They’ll stay fresh and look beautiful for a few days in a glass of cool water on the kitchen counter. Just remember to change the water daily.

They also make a fun addition to summer cut flowers too.

Oh, one more thing; not all scapes are ready at the same time, so visit your garlic patch often!

For your culinary enjoyment:

Garlic Scape Pesto

Making garlic scape pesto is popular because it can be frozen and stored away until mid-winter. It makes a wonderful, aromatic addition to fresh cooked pasta.

  • ¼ c. pine nuts or pecans
  • ¾ c. coarsely chopped garlic scapes
  • Juice and zest of ½ lemon
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ c extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ c. grated parmigiana or asiago cheese

In a small dry pan set over very low heat, lightly toast the pine nuts or pecans, stirring or tossing the nuts until they just begin to brown, about 2-3 minutes.

Combine scapes, nuts, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Pulse until well combined and the olive oil is completely absorbed. Makes approximately 1½ cups.

If you’re planning to enjoy fresh pesto, stir in the cheese and it’s ready to accompany pasta or top your favorite cracker. If you’re freezing pesto, hold off on the cheese, adding it after it’s been defrosted.

Garlic Allium Sativum Buiten Snape
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