Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Field to Table :: Garlic Scapes

Garlic scapes - those wild looking curly-qs - are a delightful late spring-early summer treat. Many are completely unawares of this veg, while others know to look for it during this brief season. As seen below, scapes are the flower stalk of the garlic plant - we remove them at this time of year (when they reach full curl), so that the garlic plants may focus on making bulbs instead. (Scroll down for recipe links.)
Garlic scapes growing.
What do they taste like?  Garlic scapes have a mild garlic flavor, the white, swollen flower part of the scape has a bit more kick. You can use the entire stalk; to use test the base end to remove any tough parts (especially if they are real large) just like asparagus, by bending and snapping the stalk where it breaks easy, you may also want to trim the tip. Because the flavor is milder, some folks who have a hard time eating garlic find that they can enjoy scapes.

How to use Scapes  Scapes are delicious raw or cooked! Another bonus is that they have a really long shelf life. I chop up my scapes and add them to eggs, fresh salads, pastas, soups, stir frys. They are fantastic cooked on the grill - leave them whole, add a little olive oil and pepper, and toss in the grill wok. Really they are so versatile, you can add them wherever you would use onions or garlic. Make a scape chimichurri or pesto, hummus, or try pickling them. Scroll down for recipe links. If you want to tame their flavor go ahead a blanch them for 30 seconds, cool, then proceed with your recipe.

Storing Scapes  Store scapes in a closed container - a plastic bag or tupperware - and they will keep for a month or more (I have literally lost some in the back of the fridge and they were still good three months later). Make sure to remove any rubber bands.

Preserving Garlic Scapes  We preserve our garlic scapes two ways here on the farm, and both are easy peasy. First, we simply chop and freeze! In the photo below you can see trimmed scape sections, these are prepped, then chopped and frozen on a cookie sheet; once frozen they are transferred to a freezer container, then we can easily grab a tablespoon or a handful and toss into meals all winter long! They hold really well this way, surprisingly good enough to even throw on raw salads.

The other way we preserve scapes is by making a pesto. We blend up the pesto and freeze in pint jars (experiment with what size jar is right for you). We used to freeze it in vacuum seal bags, with the oil it is easy to open a bag, break off a hunk and reseal; we move to jars to use less plastic.

Some of our favorite ways to use the pesto include in grilled cheese sandwiches, with crackers/sardines/cheese (a favorite quick lunch), in scrambled eggs, with sautéed greens, of course it good with pasta and you can mix with yogurt for a dipping sauce.

**Warning - consumption of garlic scapes may result in extreme pleasure and may result in additive behavior, heightened awareness of the brief fresh garlic scape season, shaking your scape bunches like maracas in the kitchen.**

A Handful of Recipes to Get You Going

Garlic Scape Pesto (We use walnuts instead of pinenuts.)
Garlic Scape Chimichurri Sauce (Omit the jalapeno, if you aren't feeling it.)
Pasta with Garlic Scape Pesto
Pickled Garlic Scapes
Pasta with Garlic Scape Pesto, Sugar Snap Peas and Ricotta 
Garlic Scapes Hummus

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