grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Harvesting Garlic Scapes

I planted garlic last fall for the first time. I chose one hardneck and one softneck variety and planted them in one of the two 4x4 foot beds after all the veggies I'd grown there were finished.

Of course I took on the garlic-growing not knowing what the heck I was doing other than trying to be cool by growing my own garlic.

While reading one of my favorite garden blogs, Skippy's Vegetable Garden, I saw that Kathy had harvested garlic scapes then used them on her delish looking grilled pizza. Never heard of garlic scapes! Thank goodness she had pictures so I thought I'd better go outside and see if I have anything that looks like a garlic scape. Holy Moly there they were all curled and looked whimsical.

Before it is time to harvest the garlic, the plant sends up a single thick round shoot from the center and the end is a bulging area that will eventually burst open with a flower. In order to encourage the garlic bulbs to grow larger, the garlic scape should be cut off so that the energy can be spent on the bulb, not the flower. So, that's what I did.

One article I read suggested cutting the garlic in the heat of the afternoon to decrease the drippage from the garlic scapes but I did that and still found the garlic scape juice running down my hand. I also read that you should harvest the garlic scapes before they curl but since I didn't even know these things existed before mine were already curled, I missed that chance. I did notice that the less they were curled, the more tender they were.

I cut off the bulging part at the top of the garlic scape leaving just the green stem then cut the stems into 1/2 inch pieces. The smell of these things was heavenly. It's like a cross between a really strong garlic smell and a green onion.

I sauteed the chopped garlic scapes with some spinach and local portabello mushrooms I'd bought, chopped and marinated. You can also make garlic scape pesto which I may try later when I harvest the garlic scapes from the softneck variety that I have growing.

If you have a great way to use garlic scapes, please share your recipe with us. I'm so excited about this newly discovered food that I can't wait to see what all can be done with it.


  1. I eat the bulging part, too! But then, I usually don't notice my scapes until they curl into pigtails, and the bulging part is much softer than the straight part at that point.

    Garlic scape pesto sounds yummy. I like to saute them along with herbs and whatever else I have around, and then use them in my "omelettes."

    (That's in quotation marks because--according to my smarty-pants boyfriend, lol--apparently you aren't allowed to call them omelettes if you just basically dump whisked eggs and milk into the saute pan, and stir occasionally until they're all cooked through. But I'm too lazy after a day of gardening to bother with the fussy, correct way of making them! :-D)

  2. Oh, and I meant to say that I thought that the softneck varieties do NOT produce scapes... but that might just be true of the one softneck that I grew two years ago, so I'm not 100% sure.

    By the way, and they're also good mixed in with some bits of bacon, maybe a little tomato, and some cream (or cream-based pasta sauce) and white wine, then served over a delicate pasta like capellini.

  3. You're the second blog this week posting about garlic scapes. I'm going to resist the urge to do plant some like y'all.

  4. I just planted my first garlics a few days ago. Had no idea about the scapes, either, and though it will be a while before I have any, it's good to know about this. I just love garlic!!!! This also explains that what I thought was curly-cue onions, on a recent garden tour, was in fact garlic. Alright then!

  5. Thanks Gina! I had no idea about harvesting the scapes. I planted garlic last fall for the first time too.

    After reading this I went out and cut the scapes from my garlic - too impatient to wait until after work! They do smell good - can't wait to use them!

  6. Thanks for explaining garlic scapes. I have heard talk about them for months now and just pretended I knew all about them.

    Now I really do.

  7. I did basically the same thing this past week. Harvested some of my scapes (this was my first year of growing garlic as well) and then I made pesto using the scapes and my basil. It had a great flavor. I suggest you try it out as well.

  8. Oh! Thank you for the great pictures! I found these today in my garden and couldn't remember what I planted last fall. I THOUGHT it was a package of "garlic chives" but the pictures didn't match. Then I found your pictures and it was a perfect match! Thanks for the info. I wouldn't have known that I needed to cut the scapes. I'll go back out in the morning and harvest them all.

  9. I don't cut my scapes, because I love seeing the curls. I still get great garlic cloves, but you know what happened this year? They curled beautifully, and now they're STRAIGHT! Now I wonder why they straightened up? They didn't do that last year.

  10. The garlic scape pesto sounds wonderful. Due to our current heat wave on the west coast, I'm not thinking of cooking any time soon, but I will keep this in mind. I have a small patch of garlic which I keep forgetting each year to harvest. I'll have to watch it closer now.

  11. thanks for clarifying scapes, they are something new to me. I made some pesto tonight with the batch that arrived from my CSA last week. Delish!

  12. I just watched this video that explained the "why" to clipping off most of the scapes and the "why" to when they straighten out - that means they are ready to be harvested. Here's a link to the video and I'm off to make a yummy scape spread and marinade! Yummmmm

  13. I am really glad I found this blog, I am growing garlic for the first time this year and I thought that you waited until it curls because I have only seen pics of it that way. Too funny. Thanks for the info.