Monday, July 6, 2009

The Garlic Scape

I must apologize for my flip comment on the garlic scape the other day. I feel like garlic scapes are one of those things like refrigerator pickled veggies or local lard that are getting a lot of attention these days. But as luck would have it, I spent about six hours at the Farmer's Market the other day giving garlic scape demonstrations, and it seems that there is still a need out there. So for all of you who are wondering what this strange thing called a scape might be, as well as what to do with it, I thought I'd give a bit of a general overview.
The scape is the flower of the garlic plant. It grows out of the plant like this.

In order to encourage the garlic bulb to grow, the flower must be snipped off at its base. In large scale garlic growing, the scape is discarded, but here we take our cue from garlic growing cultures around the world who have recognized the worth of the scape.
In a general sense, the garlic scape is very useful before garlic is harvested in the fall. Garlic scapes can be used in place of garlic in most situations, and they actually have some special skills that are not shared by the garlic bulb.
Use garlic scapes everywhere- in sautees, pastas, soups- anything. I think that they are especially wonderful in eggs- a mixed greens and garlic scape frittata is a very special thing. Scapes are great in salad dressing due to their mild greeniness, and the other day at the market, a Korean woman told me that in Korea, they chop the scape, mix it with rice vinegar and red pepper, and use it as a condiment.
There are many uses for the scape which use the entire thing, head and all. They can be grilled, pickled or slow roasted.

For sautees, soups, pastas or any other use, we only use the stem. Often the very bottom is a bit tough, so that comes off.

Then we chop off the flowery head.

Then chop the remaining stem. The pieces can be any size you like- it doesn't have to be small like garlic.
And how does it taste? Garlicky, as you can imagine, but subtler and grassier. I find that it permeates things in a mellow perfume-y sort of way which is lovely.
You won't find garlic scapes at the store, but right around now, they are coming out of the ears of any farmer's market. They're usually cheap, too- farmers are just trying to get rid of them. Buy a whole bunch. They'll keep in the fridge for a long time, and you can always use them in flower arrangements too. You'll be right in there with the agra-hip crowd.


  1. grand- i'll keep my eyes peeled at our farmer's market today. lovely.

  2. The agra-hip crowd. I like that.

    I got it backwards and used the head and discarded the rest and it was great. The garlic scape is simply an awesome, yummy thing. The unsung hero of the farming world.

    Thanks for singing its praises!