Garlic scapes, or flower stalks, emerge from hard-necked varieties of garlic in June. The stalks wind up as they grow and form eccentric curlicues. Snipping off the scapes before the flowerheads mature directs more energy into the developing garlic bulb, and so we snip them off for a garlic scape harvest in mid-June.
When the garlic scapes are still in full curl, they are tender and succulent. They have a garlicky taste that is milder than the garlic cloves with the tender snap of just-picked asparagus. Garlic scapes have many uses from soup to salads to garnishes.
Garlic scapes are somewhat milder than its root bulb. Chopped, it can be added to stirfry, omelettes, added into gravies and sauces and so much more. They are only available late spring and early summer so enjoy them while they're here. We advise removing the stalk tip above the pod before using the scapes. Some people use the whole scape, but the pod and tip are much more fibrous than the tender stalk.
Scapes tend to get tough and/or lose flavor if overcooked, so start simple. To learn how much cooking is enough and how much is too much, perform a test: cut scapes to desired lengths and sauté in a little olive oil over medium heat, adding salt and pepper to taste. Do a taste test after just a few minutes; serve when the scapes are warmed through and still tender. The end result a side dish that is elegant and tasty, and a rule of thumb for how much time the scapes need in the pan.
Handling & Storage:
- Garlic scapes keep well in cold storage, though freshly cut scapes taste the best. You can keep scapes in the refrigerator for a month or more, in a paper bag to avoid turning them into a slimy science project.
- They freeze well, too--blanched or not--but they tend to lose some of the garlicky heat during long storage below freezing. Even if they lose some flavor, scapes from the freezer add a great texture and color to dishes long after scape season has passed.
- Garlic scapes are also perfect for pickling or making and freezing as a pesto.