Have you ever heard of garlic scapes? If you are a garlic lover and grow some yourself, chances are you already know what a scape is, but you might still be wondering how to cook garlic scapes.
If you have never grown garlic, you may have no clue just what a garlic scape is!
I’m Annie, and Marie has invited me to tell you about one of her favourite vegetables! I started growing garlic years ago when I put 12 cloves in the ground. My husband and I love garlic so much, we grew more each year and finally started Bradley Creek Garlic Farms! Now we grow fields of garlic and ship it all across Canada, to people looking to start their own garlic patches. I know a thing (or three) about garlic and appreciate it for the healthy, delicious, versatile bulb that it is. (And look for Marie’s posts this autumn as she finds out if Bradley Creek Garlic grows as well in Nova Scotia)
See those beautiful curly things in the photo? Those are garlic scapes. Aren’t they pretty? If you look closely you can see the white seed pod on the end.
There are two general varieties of garlic: hardneck and softneck.
Softneck garlic is usually grown in southern states such as California. It grows where the winters are very mild.
Hardneck garlic grows great in Canada and the northern US. Anywhere with a cold winter is a great place to grow some hardneck garlic. Here at Bradley Creek Garlic Farms in BC, we grow a lot of hardneck garlic that we ship across Canada. That means we also grow a lot of scapes!
What is a Garlic Scape?
When you grow hardneck garlic, a shoot will start to grow and come out of the central stalk of the plant. This is going to be the scape. Every plant will send up one scape and usually growers snap these off the plant.
The best time to snap off the scapes is when they have finished making a full curl. If snapped earlier, the scape may try to regrow. Since most people want the garlic bulb underground to grow as large as possible, they don’t want any of the plant energy going to growing out that scape. This is why they are removed.
At the end of the scapes are creamy coloured garlic seed pods; inside are tiny garlic seeds called bulbils. You can plant these little seeds and get garlic, but it will take a few years for them to develop full grown heads.
The faster way to grow garlic is to remove the individual cloves from a bulb and plant those.
But … back to the scape. What to do with it?
Cook it! There – that’s the short answer.
Scapes are a wonderful garlicky treat to enjoy, well before garlic bulbs are available. Those bulbs in the grocery store are probably NOT fresh, by the way! Garlic in Canada is harvested around the end of July. If you are buying grocery store garlic in April, it was imported.
How to Cook Garlic Scapes
Here are four ways to cook garlic scapes. You can either cook them whole or cut them just before the white seed head. Let me share with you some very simple garlic scapes recipes that I believe you’ll enjoy.
Steamed – You will likely need to cut the scapes in half or thirds so they fit in your steamer. Just steam them over water in a steamer basket for about 5 minutes. If you like them softer instead of crunchy, just steam them for a few minutes longer.
Grilled – Lightly steam them for about 4 minutes and then lay them on your grill. Brush them with sesame oil and then place on the grill. You can lay them on foil if you like, but you don’t have to.
Grill them for about 3 minutes, then flip them over, brush with a bit of oil and grill for another 3 minutes. Along with grilled steaks and a nice salad, this makes for a wonderful summer meal.
Fried – Start off with heating 4 tbsps of sesame oil along with 2 tbsp soya sauce. Add the scapes and fry for about 10 minutes on medium heat. Remove and pat them with paper towel to remove excess oil.
Pickled – This method takes more time of course, but is a great way to enjoy scapes all winter long. I like to cut the scapes in uniform lengths so they fill the jar, like a pickled bean would. Some people just chop the scapes into pieces and toss all sizes into the jar before pickling. Here’s a recipe for Pickled Garlic Scapes.
You can find garlic scapes in some chain grocery stores as the grocers are realizing the popularity is increasing. If you can’t find them there, look in smaller ethnic groceries and at your local Farmers Markets.
Perhaps you will want to grow some of your own garlic this Fall and produce your own this year – especially now that you know how to cook garlic scapes!