Garlic scapes: Chop now, use later

Garlic scapes for freezing

Yesterday I cut off all the scapes from the garlic plants in my garden. This is done so the plants put their entire energy into the bulbs.

Garlic scapes are delicious but I can use only that many at a time. No reason to discard the rest, though! The chopped scapes are a great addition to soups, stir fries and other dishes so I freeze them. Continue reading

Scape sampler

While I have grown garlic for a number of years I did not realize until a couple of years ago that you can actually use the scapes, the undeveloped flower buds that should be cut off as soon as they appear of in order to strengthen the garlic bulbs. Then, last year, I unintentionally grew flowerless garlic.

So this year was the first time I could put my hands on scapes. I wanted to get the full scape flavor so I used them raw, in scape pesto and scape butter. Since this was a premiere, I made only small batches of each but the amounts can easily be doubled or tripled if you are lucky enough to have lots of scapes at your disposal – garlic scapes seem to be a hot commodity at farmer’s markets.

I removed the thin pointy tips of the scapes (these are the dark green blades that look like chives in the top photo), as they tend to be fibrous. The lemon juice adds a little acid to the pesto is so it keeps its color.

Garlic Scape Pesto

¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

¾ cup scapes

¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Juice of ½ lemon

½ teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1. Lightly toast the walnuts in a non-greased pan. Set aside to cool.

2. Cut the scapes into ½-inch pieces. Put the scapes, cooled walnuts, Parmesan, olive oil, and lemon juice in the food processor. Using the pulse function, chop finely, scraping down the sides with a spatula every so often.

3. Season with salt and pepper and pulse again. The pesto should still be somewhat chunky. Fill in a jar and refrigerate.

Garlic Scape Butter

6 tablespoons soft butter

2 tablespoons chopped scapes

¼ cup packed Italian parsley



Put all ingredients in the food processor and process to a creamy consistency. Fill in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Garlic: Tell me where the flowers are

If I had listened to the lady from customer service at Burpee, the garlic I planted last October would still be sitting in the ground shriveling up in the summer heat. I’ve grown garlic successfully for the past years but something strange happened this year. The garlic did not develop any flower tops, aka scapes. So I called Burpee where I bought the planting garlic last fall to find out whether this variety, Early Italian Garlic, might be a non-blooming kind (just like the rhubarb I have in the garden). The lady at Burpee first didn’t know what scapes are, and when I told her “The garlic doesn’t bloom,” she said “Don’t worry, just wait until next year.” – as if garlic was a perennial, which usually starts to bloom only in its second year. That much for help from the pros. It was hilarious.

But the garlic was fine. We harvested about 50 nice, plump heads. Now that they have cured for a few weeks in the shed, I need to think about storage. I am debating with myself whether I should keep a small supply for a couple of months and freeze the rest as unpeeled cloves, like I’ve done in previous years. Frozen garlic is not good to use raw, but that’s not a problem for me because I use most of it for cooking anyway.

Hardneck garlic, the type that is the best to grow in this area, does not store very well. By Thanksgiving, it is light as air. Storing garlic in oil is not an option because it can produce botulism, a serious food poisoning that can paralyze or kill.

I think I will compromise. Half of the garlic will go in the freezer right away, and the other half I will hang up in bundles in the basement until I find that the garlic does dry out too quickly – or until someone complains about the strong garlic smell in the basement.