Thursday, June 21, 2012

Garlic Scapes

After my last Harvest Notes post Susan asked about garlic scapes, so I thought I would write a post about what they are and what I do with them.

What they are
A garlic scape is a flower stalk that grows out of the top of hardneck garlics**.  That little knob there contains tiny little garlic cloves.  Most of the ones I've picked are curlier than this one, sometimes making loops and sometimes making a figure-eight.  The longer they're on the plant, the woodier they get; most people like to pick them while they're young and tender.  This one was missed when I picked the rest, so it's pretty tough.

What I do with them

I've heard that you can use garlic scapes just like scallions, but since I don't really like scallions I don't have many recipes that call for them.  I turn my scapes into garlic scape pesto.  Garlic scape pesto has become a bit passe in the blogosphere - one blogger referred to it as "obligatory", as in "Ho hum, I make the obligatory garlic scape pesto the other day.  Yawn."  Whatever.  I made it for the first time last year, and it was so, so yummy!  I liked it better than basil pesto.  Unfortunately I didn't record the recipe I used, but I'm not too worried about it.  This year I used the recipe proportions from The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen, and I had so many scapes that I ended up with more than 2 pints.  If anyone wants to try some, let me know - N is not crazy about pesto of any kind, and I sure can't eat all this by myself.  Probably.

** Garlics are generally classified as either hardneck, softneck, or elephant.  The stuff you find at the supermarket is softneck: it keeps well, it has two or three rings of smallish cloves around the central stalk, and it has annoyingly clingy white papers around each clove.  Hardneck garlic is more tolerant of cool growing conditions, but doesn't store as well, and it usually only has one ring of larger cloves with looser paper coverings.  I grow some hardneck and some softneck.  Elephant garlic is huge (roughly baseball-sized) and more mildly flavored. 


  1. Yum! I wish I was nearby - I would take some of that scape pesto off your hands :)

  2. Ooooh, I LOVE pesto! That sounds delicious! I'd gladly help you use it up if you still feel like you won't go through it all. When I used to make fresh pesto I'd freeze it in ice cube trays. Then I could just throw one cube in with a pot of pasta.

  3. @Ellie - Usually I freeze my in quart-sized baggies, but this year (thanks to you) I had freezer-safe jars. I was so excited about this idea! Then as I was putting them away N came and asked, "How are you planning to chip it out of there?" Oops.

    @Renee Michelle - Surely you'll come visit again before I run out?