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My introduction to true market gardening came 10 years ago when I joined the Beginning Farmer Training program.  

My mentor, Jack Gurley, of Calvert’s Gift Farm sent us out in the field to harvest garlic scapes.

What?  Pull this tender flower stalky looking thing right out of the middle of this plant????

I was baffled and delighted at this new discovery.

My Dad had bragged years earlier about the great garlic he was growing in upstate NY but he didn’t know anything about pulling out a flower stalk… all he did was harvest the garlic when the bulb was ready. 

So look, here’s the skinny on the scape…

Garlic is one of the few plants with two harvests: garlic scapes are harvested first in late spring here in MD, then the bulbs are harvested later in the summer.

Harvesting the scapes is an integral part of garlic farming—if the scapes aren’t cut off, the plant expends its energy trying to grow its stem and flower, leaving the bulb small and flavourless.

Scapes grow out of the top of each garlic bulb, then coil into long, skinny, green stems that look kinda like tender, twirly green beans.  Their texture is similar to fresh, slim asparagus stalks.

So, by eating garlic scapes, you’re doing your part in the garlic growing cycle.

Thanks to their flavor and texture, garlic scape recipes can feature the plant as a vegetable, fresh herb, or aromatic.

You probably know garlic scapes are relatives of green onions, shallots, and the alliums you cook with frequently.
But garlic scapes are not green onions, nor are they green garlic or ramps. Here’s the difference:
  • Green onions, also known as scallions, are a different plant—unlike how garlic scapes are the stem of the bulb of garlic. They taste like a mild onion.
  • Ramps are their own plant as well, and taste similar to leeks and onions.
  • Green garlic is a young garlic plant that’s harvested before the bulb is fully mature and developed. Garlic scapes are more crisp than softer green garlic, and garlic scapes also pack more of a flavor punch. Feel free to use green garlic and garlic scapes interchangeably, if desired.

Raw garlic scapes are tamer than raw garlic cloves, yet still offer plenty of fresh, oniony, herbaceous, and pungent flavor.

I find garlic scapes taste “greener” than regular garlic.

So now you’re wondering…”what part of garlic scapes do you eat?”  For the most pleasant texture, use the slim stem in the middle. Wash the garlic scapes, then trim off the end and the bud.

If you’re stumped about how to use garlic scapes, just use them any way you might use garlic, green garlic, or green onions.  

And make pesto – an Oak Spring Favorite….or Slice them in 1″ pieces & toss them with other veggies for a saute or bake (roast). They’ll taste like garlicky green beans.

Here are eight of our favorite garlic scapes uses: (from Better Homes & Gardens)

  • Pesto. Replace some or all of the fresh basil in your favorite pesto recipe (or follow our Garlic Scape and Basil Pesto recipe) for a sauce/dip that practically shouts, “spring is here!”
  • Grilled. Toss garlic scapes with oil, season with salt and pepper, and grill garlic scapes until slightly charred and tender, about 10 minutes. Use tongs to flip the garlic scapes once halfway through the cooking time. Garnish with a squeeze of lemon juice, grated or shaved Parmesan cheese, and Marcona almonds, if desired.
  • Sautéed. Slice garlic scapes stems into 1- to 2-inch pieces. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the sautéed garlic scapes for about 5 minutes or until tender. Fold into frittatas, add to stir-fries, use as a pizza topping, or enjoy as part of a grain bowl.
  • Roasted. If you want to try eating garlic scapes bulbs, roasted garlic scapes are the way to go. This allows the thicker tops time to tenderize. On a large sheet pan, toss garlic scapes with oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 425 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes, using tongs to toss halfway through, until golden brown and crispy.
  • Dressings. Add finely-diced garlic scapes to your store-bought or homemade salad dressing.
  • Butters. Fold thinly-sliced raw garlic scapes, a healthy pinch of salt, and a squeeze of lemon into softened butter for a next-level bread spread.
  • Clove replacement. Any time you might use garlic cloves as an aromatic for a recipe, feel free to trade in thinly-sliced garlic scapes. Toss them in at the stage the recipe calls for adding minced or diced garlic. Keep in mind that sautéed garlic scapes mellow out a lot, so use about three times as much garlic scapes as you would use regular garlic cloves. (For example, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon minced garlic, use 3 tablespoons of diced garlic scapes stems.)
  • Pickle. Slice garlic scapes stems into 4-inch pieces (or whatever will fit your canning jars) and follow your favorite pickle brine recipe to give them tons of tangy flavor.