You may have seen these curly, green sprigs pop up around farmers markets and grocery stores around the beginning of summer. Garlic scapes are the flowering shoots from garlic plants. Farmers trim these stems to redirect the plant’s energy towards growing the garlic bulb instead of the flower that sprouts above ground. They are fresh, mildly garlicky in flavour, and are a wonderful mild aromatic – perfect to add to your favourite dishes. Use it much like you would other mild aromatics like shallots—slice thinly and added fresh to dishes, or roughly chopped and lightly fried.
How to Select Garlic Scapes
When selecting garlic stems, look for fresh, vibrantly green stems. You can tell how fresh scapes are by the tapered end: the fresher they are, the more firm and green the tips are. While scapes will stay fresh for a long time, you can tell how long it’s been since they were picked by how yellow the tips are. Older scapes will still taste great though, all you need to do is simply trim off the yellowed ends. One thing to note is that the more mature the scapes are, the tougher they may be. More mature scapes may be better used in cooking like stir fry or soup, while the younger, more tender ones will be delicious raw when added to salads and lettuce wraps!
How to Store Garlic Scapes
Store garlic scapes loosely in a plastic bag in the vegetable crisper for up to three weeks. However, Chef D suggests that they will keep for months in the crisper!
Wash just before using.
How to Prepare Garlic Scapes
To prepare young, tender garlic scapes, simply wash well, pat dry, and chop thinly into slices to add as a garnish, much like green onion. For more mature scapes, roughly chop into 1-inch pieces to add to stir fries, or turn them into pesto.
How to Freeze Garlic Scapes
Freezing garlic scapes is a great way to preserve them for use later. Simply chop garlic scapes into 1/8-1/4 inch pieces, then blanch in boiling water for about 1 minute, until the scapes turn bright green. Drain and plunge into an ice bath to halt the cooking process. Drain and pat dry. Transfer to a lined baking sheet to flash freeze, then transfer to an airtight container. Use within one year for best flavour.
What Goes Well With Garlic Scapes?
Produce: celery, garlic, mushrooms, asparagus, leafy greens, potatoes, spinach, and tomatoes.
Dairy: butter, parmesan cheese, sour cream, goat cheese and ricotta cheese
Savoury: beans, almonds, chickpeas, hummus, peanuts, pasta, rice, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, and walnuts.
Herbs & Spices: basil, dill, black pepper, sage, thyme, and parsley
Garlic scapes are mildly garlicky so they go well in almost any dish! Turn garlic scapes into pesto, and use them over pasta, on flatbreads, sandwiches, pizza (and not just the dough kind!), crackers—the sky’s the limit!
Try quick-pickling tender garlic scapes for a fun accompaniment at your next BBQ.
Food52 has some great ideas to use garlic scapes, including making garlic scape tempura! That sounds absolutely delicious.