Garlic Scapes

garlic scapes

I don't expect many to know what scapes are. I, myself have only learned about them about two years ago. (Thanks to CSA) These yummy green stems are a great substitute for garlic cloves in a pinch. They look just like scallions but thinner.

Allium Sativum is commonly known as garlic and is in the onion genus allium. It's closest relatives are shallots, onions, leeks, scallions, and rakkyo. Humans have been using garlic for over 7,000 years and it's native to Central Asia.

Scapes are the "flowerless" stems. Before the bulbs develop and mature in the garlic plant, the flowery stems are called Garlic Scapes. The stalks appear approximately one month after the first leaves. These stalks (scapes) are removed because they deprive the plant from forming into a plump bulb. When not removed, this produces smaller bulbils which can be placed in the soil to produce new bulbs. However, doing so will take 2–3 years to grow. They are edible and delicious. Bulbils and stalks are edible and delicious, as well. Harvesting scapes works in everyone's favor. The culinary world gets tasty scapes and the plant gets to grow bigger. Harvested when young is best because that is when they are tender and can be eaten raw. Otherwise they must be cooked. Harvest before they start to curl. If harvested after it starts to curl, you can still cook them once you trim the base of the stem like the harder base of asparagus. Remove them during the hottest part of the day so that the sun can dry up the area they were removed from to avoid sap from seeping into the rest of the plant and ruining it.

It's only recent in this country that many farmers come to realize, that around the world the entire plant is used in the culinary world,and to us most of it sadly and shamefully goes to the trash. In lots of parts of the world the scapes are considered a delicacy, just as the unopened flower heads are as well. Even the leaves are used for soup. No part of the garlic plant is wasted.

American produce growers, especially those who grow garlic, have started to look into these traditional foods as a way not only to increase the profits of their garlic crop, but also to introduce consumers to tasty new approaches to garlic cookery.

If you enjoy cooking, and you love garlic, you have to get your hands on some scapes