AN EARLY SUMMER SEASONAL CULINARY CRAZE:
Every year in mid-June we become obsessed with garlic scapes, and we want everyone to fall in love with this weird, beautiful, tangly, scrumptious, seasonal delicacy like we have!
Scapes are the flower stalks that grow out of the center of certain types of hardneck garlic plants in mid-June. They curl into one or two loops as they grow, and ultimately straighten while sprouting little bulbs on the end filled with tiny, garlic-shaped bulbils. Bulbils are genetic copies of the parent plant, not seeds.
To harvest garlic scapes, we snap them off at the juncture where they emerge from between the top leaves of the plant. By snapping off the scapes before the bulbils develop too much, the garlic plants put more energy into making bigger bulbs.
When garlic scapes are just about to curl, they are tender and delicious. They have a sweeter, greener flavor than garlic cloves, and a texture like green beans or asparagus. Scapes are a true delicacy that is highly prized by foodies and chefs of all skill levels because of their flavor, their tender, crisp texture, and short window of availability. We like to say that scapes give you some of the lovely flavor of garlic without the consequence of dragon breath!
Because scapes have a milder garlic flavor with a hint of sweetness, they can be used just like scallions or chives. They’re especially tasty when used raw in pesto, salsa, or salads, or they can be oven roasted, pickled, fermented or sautéd in butter. Try adding them to stir-fry, soups, stews or pizza, or even baking them into bread!
OUR FAVORITE WAY: Toss scapes in a little olive oil, pepper and sea salt, then grill them for 10-12 minutes, flipping them at about 5 minutes. This simple preparation really allows the subtle scape flavor to shine, and is one of our family's favorite, quick side dishes to go along with any grilled summer meal.
Check out the scape recipes in Our Stinky Kitchen and the collection of our favorite scape videos below for more unique ways to enjoy this sensational, fleeting delight.
Fresh scapes can keep:
As a bouquet in a glass of water on the kitchen counter or table for about two weeks.
In some water in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
In the freezer for up to a year as long as they are protected from freezer burn.
You can also dehydrate and pickle them. For more ideas, check out the abundance of scape recipes on Our Stinky Kitchen page!
We recommend using fresh or refrigerated scapes for grilling, sautéing, or adding to fresh recipes to take advantage of their firmer texture, and using frozen, dehydrated and pickled scapes otherwise. Here are your scape storage options:
REFRIGERATE FRESH SCAPES.
If you know you'll use them fairly quickly, rinse you scapes in cool water, then store them in an airtight, resealable bag in the refrigerator crisper drawer. Or, gather your scapes at the trimmed ends and put them in a tall, glass or jar with about an inch of water touching their trimmed end so they look like a bouquet of flowers. Change the water every 2–3 days.
Rinse fresh scapes in cool water, then use a salad spinner (or pat with a dry towel) to remove as much water from the surface as possible.
Blanch the scapes by dunking them in boiling water for 1 minute, then in ice an ice bath for 3 minutes.
Place blanched scapes in an airtight, resealable bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag, seal it, and place it as flat as possible in the freezer; or
Skip the blanching and place scapes in a vacuum seal bag. Seal the bag and freeze; or
Cut whole scapes into 1–2" pieces (including the flower bulb). Using a food processor, coarsely chop the scapes for a few seconds very roughly. Add enough water to the bowl to make a loose, fine chop or paste, then freeze the mixture using small baggies, ice cube trays, cups or bowls. Store your "scape cubes" in a covered container in the freezer.
Rinse fresh scapes in cool water, then trim the flower bulb off each scape stem. Pro Tip: Freeze the trimmed flower bulbs and use them to make stock, season soups, or to pickle separately.
Using a sharp knife or food processor, roughly chop the scape stems into ¼–½" pieces, and spread out in a single layer on your food dehydrator tray(s) or baking sheet.
Dry in a food dehydrator at 125°F for 6–11 hours depending on humidity levels, or in the oven (convection if possible) at 175°F for 4–5 hours.
Once fully dried to a crispy or "snappable" state, dehydrated scapes can either be left in chunky pieces for eventual grinding and use in cooking and baking as needed, or you can create a course scape powder using a food processor or spice grinder.
Store dried scapes or dried scape powder in an airtight, glass jar or resealable bag in a cool, dry place.
Pickled scapes taste like garlic-y pickled green beans or asparagus with an extra crunchy snap. They add an amazing pop to a Bloody Mary too!
Scape stems can be pickled many ways, but we prefer to trim the flower bulbs off (again, saving them in the freezer for stock/soups, or pickling them on their own) then curling the stems into wide-mouth canning jars.