One of my favorite crops in my market garden is garlic. The cloves are planted in the fall and start putting down roots before lying dormant over the winter. In the spring, they take off growing again and are flourishing in this year’s wet weather. In June, the plants are two feet plus in height and start sending up their flower scape, often making an elegant full curl. Garlic growers remove the scape in order to send more energy to producing a larger size bulb. The scapes can add a tasty garlicky addition to cooking while we wait for the bulbs to mature. In Ohio, we will start pulling garlic bulbs for harvest in July when about half the leaves are brown.
To prepare scapes, discard the flowering end as it can be a bit stringy, and then the tender portion can be chopped and used like an onion scallion in recipes and it offers a delightful mild garlic flavor. They are excellent in soups, stir-fries, pesto and anywhere you might use onions or garlic.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
- 1/2 cup chopped garlic scapes
- 1 cup olive oil
- 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 T. lemon juice
- Puree scapes and olive oil in blender until smooth.
- Stir in Parmesan and lemon juice plus salt to taste.
- Enjoy with pasta or as a dip or spread.
- Snap Pea & Scapes Stir Fry
- 1 lb. snap or snow peas
- 1T. olive oil
- 5-6 garlic scapes, minced
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- salt & pepper to taste
- Heat oil in skillet on medium heat.
- Stir in scapes and cook 1-2 minutes.
- Add peas and cook 3-4 minutes till crisp tender.
- Remove from heat and sprinkle on lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately.
For a by-product that is frequently just discarded in the compost pile, there are many versatile options that can transform scapes into a valuable harvest. Recently, I worked with five area Amish garlic growers to gather almost 1,000 bundles of a dozen scapes each for a large CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in Cleveland. Our mini-van was completely packed full of boxes of the curly scapes. Our family was excited to be a part of keeping nearly $1,000 in the local economy, benefiting both the farmers and the eaters. Lehman’s played a part in making these connections possible, as they were one of the sponsors for a Kidron farming event in March that promoted produce growing and marketing among area growers. The farmers are saying a big thank you!
You should be able to find scapes at the farmers market this time of year. If you want to try growing some of your own, look for locally grown seed garlic available in Lehman’s retail store starting late August.