by Lisa Giroday, Sandra Lopuch and Sam Philips | So…what are garlic scapes? They’re the flower stalks of hard neck garlic plants. Garlic plants have not one, but two harvests and because garlic is such an essential part of our culinary lives, this comes in pretty handy. A gardener may feel the same excitement about scapes as a kid in the midst of an Easter egg hunt. Upon emerging, they are often cut off from the plant not only for the delicious scapes themselves, but also so that they don’t continue to take away nutrients from the developing bulbs.
FACT: If not harvested and left on the central stalk of the plant, scapes will go on to form small bulbils that can be planted to grow more garlic, although it takes 2–3 years for them to form large bulbs. But it’s cool that there is more than one method of growing garlic. Also, if you choose to leave the scapes on, as the garlic matures the scapes will straighten out. This signifies that your bulbs are ready for the picking.
When to harvest garlic scapes? Cut when the scapes are forming their first circle of growth to get the best flavour and texture. If they are bigger, just cut off the woody part of the stalk as you would asparagus. Chop up the scapes and use them in anything requiring garlic flavour.
If you’re looking to buy some scapes for dinner, they are available at farmers markets. The season for garlic scapes is very short, so go looking for them now or you might miss them.
There are several ways to use garlic scapes: pesto, salad dressing, dips and sauces – (hummus!), for garlic bread, as a pizza topping, or grill them as vegetables like asparagus with a little olive oil, S&P, and maybe lemon juice. They are so good! If you have too many, pickle or freeze them.
Victory Gardens is a team of local urban farmers for hire. Lisa, Sandra and Sam help transform tired or underused residential and commercial green spaces into food producing gardens. Their goal is to challenge the way communities use space and to participate in the change needed to consume food more sustainably. For the rest of the growing season, they’ve hooked up with Scout to share some cool tips and tricks on how to get the best from of our own backyards.