Garden of Eatin' / Vegetables

Garlic Scapes Are Good

Freshly harvested garlic scapes

Right around this time of year, bundles of garlic scapes abound at farmers’ markets all over, but if you grow hardneck garlic at home, you might notice the same curious tendrils shooting out of your garlic bulbs. The scapes (also called garlic shoots, stems, stalks or spears) are a garden foodie favorite and can be used like a vegetable. The long, edible stems have the consistency of a green bean and the flavor of garlic crossed with green onion.

Harvest them for a bonus edible before your garlic crop matures!

Scapes are the thin, curly, “flowering” stems of hardneck garlic, but they don’t actually flower. If left to mature, the seed pod at the end of the scape will produce small bulbils that can be planted to produce more garlic. However, growing garlic from bulbils takes a considerably longer time than growing garlic from cloves — up to two or three years for a decent-sized bulb.

Garlic scape

Garlic scape

Like flowers on herbs, scapes will stunt the growth of your garlic bulbs by redirecting energy into the production of its seeds (bulbils). Once you see the exuberantly loopy shoot forming in late spring or early summer, snip off the entire stem to send the energy back into the bulb.

Cut off the garlic scape to send energy back into the bulb

Just like a fresh and verdant version of garlic, scapes are mild and delicious. They can be brushed with olive oil and grilled like asparagus spears; minced into salsa, guacamole, marinades and dressings; chopped into soups, salads, sautes and stir-fries; blended into pesto, hummus and sauces; mixed into cream cheese and butter for an extra kick; and used in place of garlic or onion, cooked or raw, in many different dishes. You can even pickle them!

What’s your favorite way to use garlic scapes?

Garlic scapes

Linda Ly About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring — all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »