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What Are Garlic Scapes (+ How To Use & Grow Your Own)

If it’s June, you may have started to see pretty little curled up green shoots, called garlic scapes appearing at local farmers markets, farm stands, and even grocery stores. But what are garlic scapes you may be asking yourself, and how do I use them in my kitchen?

Known as garlic scapes or just scapes, these little curled shoots are actually the immature flower stalks of hardneck garlic. Chives, scallions, and garlic all grow scapes, and are all edible, though garlic scapes are the most commonly used ‘scape’ in the kitchen.

a close up of freshly harvested garlic scapes

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How Can I Grow My Own Garlic Scapes?

This tender little vegetable is most often available and only sold for a short period of time during the summer. Because of this  it can be quite pricey especially if bought at grocery stores.

Luckily you can easily grow garlic scapes at home. The trick?

Growing your own hardneck garlic!! Soft neck garlic does not generally produce scapes.

garlic plants with garlic scapes ready to be harvested

When Do Garlic Scapes Start To Appear?

Once the garlic starts to mature (usually around the end of June) it will start to send out a flower stalk from the middle of the plant. The flower stalk or scape, is harder and round in comparison to the rest of the garlic leaves and is a good indication of how far along your garlic plants are. This hard flower stalk (or scape), is removed as soon as it thickens and curls to encourage the garlic to put all its energy into growing and enlarging the bulb instead of producing a flower.

Left to its own devices though, garlic scapes will eventually turn into a flower blossom and bloom a large white flower very similar in appearance to chives! – Chef Markus Mueller

To harvest the garlic scapes, take a sharp clean knife and cut the scape of as close to the nearest set of leaves as possible once they are curled. Not all of the garlic plants will produce scapes at exactly the same time, so make sure to go out every few days until all the garlic scapes have been harvested.

How Do I Cook Garlic Scapes?

Garlic scapes are really easy to cook with. Simply use them exactly like you would use garlic cloves when finely chopped or leave the garlic scapes larger and use as a substitute for green onion.

You can chop them up and add them to stir fries, or steamed mussels. You can grill fresh garlic scrapes and serve them as a vegetable side dish. Even puree them with other ingredients and make your own basil and garlic scape pesto! Something I haven’t done yet but will be trying this year is making garlic scape powder! Just like garlic powder, but bright green, garlic scape powder adds a light garlic flavor to any dish, along with a dash of bright green color!

A deliciously simple Basil Pesto recipe using Garlic Scapes from the garden. A great way to preserve your basil harvest.

Your imagination is the only limit here, but the garlic scapes provide a great fresh vegetable in the middle of summer when the garlic bulbs themselves are not yet ready for harvest.

Storing Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes are easily stored for a few days in the refrigerator if you don’t plan on using them right away. Keep them in a ziploc bag, wrap then in a a beeswax wrap (such as abeego!) or keep them in a recycled lettuce clamshell container. If you harvested way to many garlic scapes to use before they go bad, chop the garlic scapes into 1 inch peices, and freeze them for use during the winter months!

You can also place the cut garlic cape stems in a glass of water and place them on a windowsill in a cool room, they will keep well for a few extra days, just like flowers would!

Garlic Scape Recipes

Looking for some recipes using garlic scapes? Try a few of these!

Beer Steamed Mussels with Garlic Scapes and Lemon

Grilled Garlic Scapes 

Basil and Garlic Scape Pesto

Have you ever bought and cooked with garlic scapes?? Comment & let me know what you thought below, then take a picture and tag me on Facebook & Instagram: @earthfoodandfire . For more from scratch recipes follow me on Instagram & Pinterest

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