Garlic Scapes: How To Harvest & Cook The Most Whimsical Vegetable

Organic garlic scapes.  Learn how to harvest and cook garlic scapes, plus a garlic scape recipe.
organic garlic scapes

Some call them scapes, some call them whistles — whatever you call them, they’re delicious.

Garlic scapes are the shoot that comes from hardneck garlic, growing up from the stalk and twirling up to a point. 

If let grown, the scapes will produce a flower and seeds. Since garlic is grown from planting cloves, not seeds, the best way to use garlic scapes is in the kitchen.

Harvesting the scapes will trigger the plant to direct its energy into the bulbs underground rather than the flowers.  

Scapes typically appear a month or so before garlic bulbs are ready for harvest, and offer a fresh garlic taste while you’re waiting for the bulbs to fully mature.

To harvest, simply snap the scapes at their base. 

If they bend rather than snap, let them grow another day or two.  Scapes are ready to harvest when they have one full curlicue on them. 

How to cook garlic scapes

You can use garlic scapes in any recipe that calls for garlic (at Good Heart, we start most dinners with garlic, onions, and olive oil).

Chop garlic scapes into ½ – 1” pieces, and sauté in olive oil over medium heat for a simple start to a savory meal.

For each bulb a recipe calls for, I use 1 – 2 scapes.

My favorite way to use garlic scapes is by making pesto.  Versatile and easy to freeze, garlic scape pesto can also be sautéd in place of bulbs.  I use about 1 TBS in place of 1 garlic bulb.

Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe

Have an overwhelming abundance of scapes?  Make garlic scape pesto — easy to freeze, and perfect for adding to any meal that calls for garlic when you don’t have bulbs.  

You can make the pesto as simple or fancy as you’d like.  Often, I keep it simple with just garlic scapes, olive oil, lemon, and salt.  For a more traditional pesto, add in pine nuts and parmesan cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic scapes (Or use half scapes and half herbs.  Basil and parsley both work here) 
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon (or bottled lemon juice to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Optional:

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or almonds
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Instructions:

1. If using nuts: Lightly toast the nuts over low heat, stirring or tossing occasionally until just beginning to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.

2. Combine all the ingredients except cheese in a food processor fitted with the blade attachment.  Process until well combined into a spreadable or scoopable paste (your preference), stopping to scrape the sides if necessary.  Garlic scape pesto won’t get as smooth as an all-herb pesto.  

3. If freezing, transfer to freezer safe containers and label your garlic scape pesto with the date and ingredients.  If not freezing, add in the cheese now (if you are freezing the pesto, wait to add in the cheese until after you’ve defrosted it).

4. Use your garlic scape pesto to add garlic flavor to any meal, including sauces, quiche, eggs, and pasta.

1 thought on “Garlic Scapes: How To Harvest & Cook The Most Whimsical Vegetable”

  1. I really enjoy pesto with garlic scapes and basil. The trick to keep it green is to blend everything except the basil in the food processor until smooth, then at last minute add the basil and process very shortly. Cilantro is really good as well.

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