A Garlic Scape is the Garlic Top, a Gourmet delight as a Young Shoot.
Garlic Scape
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A “scape” is a botanical term for a flower-bearing stem. In the case of the Garlic plant (Allium Sativum), many varieties produce just such a Scape so “Garlic Scapes are the immature Garlic flower stems. They are also known as “Garlic Shoots.”  In fact, all of the young green Garlic plant is edible and is known collectively as Green Garlic.

Every Garlic variety does not produce flowers because modern, cultivated Garlic has been genetically selected over thousands of years by farmers to reproduce “vegetatively” via the Garlic Bulb. This means that new Garlic grows without true seeds, which in turn means that there is no pressing call of nature for Garlic flowers.  

Garlic Scapes are not that familiar in the U.S. because they are often discarded by the Garlic farmers to help improve the growth of the Garlic Bulb, which is the larger cash crop. In Asia they are considered a delicacy and in Russia they even eat them as an Appetizer.

Garlic Scapes have a gentle, garlic flavor and can be added to any dish in place of Onion, Scallions, or Garlic, etc.

Season

Garlic Scapes begin to develop in late Spring through mid Summer. 

Availability

Garlic Scapes are not in general distribution. If they can be found they are most often found in the Summer at Farmer’s Markets, Natural Grocers, Specialty Grocers, Asian Grocers, etc. Many Asian Markets carry frozen Garlic Scapes all year long.

Cultivation

Hardneck Garlic varieties are most likely to yield Garlic Scapes, since Softneck Garlic has be developed to produce no stem.

Remove the Garlic Scapes (essentially the green shoots) when they begin to curl by carefully pinching them off or cutting them off just above the top leaf. Removing them at this stage has the added benefit of allowing the Garlic plant to focus all of its energy.

The heat of the day is the best time of day to harvest Garlic Scapes so that the hot sun helps close the wound created by cutting off the scapes. With hot sun, the Garlic Scapes will also dry more quickly. If you ignore the advice and harvest scapes early in the morning, the garlic plant may weep sap for several hours.

Varieties

There are Chinese Garlic cultivars selected and grown specifically for Garlic Scape production.  The USDA recommends “Chesnok Garlic” and “Purple Italian Easy Peel Garlic” for Garlic Scape production, though what is possible will also be limited by your geography.

Purchasing

The first thing to know about purchasing Garlic Scapes is where and when to find them, if you are not a home gardener growing your own.

They are highly seasonal (late spring to mid-summer) and even then not often carried in your standard, neighborhood grocery store. You would do better looking for them at farm stands, through CSA’s, better Natural Stores, Farmer’s Markets, etc. You can also find them in Asian Markets with well-stocked produce sections.

Frozen Garlic Scapes (also called Garlic Shoots) are available in Asian Markets most of the year.

Once you have sound a selection of Garlic Scapes, look for crisp, bright-green stems. Avoid any slimy Garlic Scapes. Also check the bottoms. Just like Asparagus, the bottoms can become hard and woody. You want tender and flexible Garlic Scapes.

Storage

If you are growing your own Garlic Scapes, freshly cut ones taste best. Refrigerated storage agrees with them too and they keep well, for up to a month or more. Store them in a paper bag to help keep them from becoming slimy.

You can also freeze fresh Garlic Scapes, even though they can lose some of their allium heat with long frozen storage. Of course, you can improve their quality during  frozen storage by Blanching the Garlic Scapes, drying them and then vacuum-packing them before freezing.

We haven’t seen it done but in theory, Garlic Scapes can be dehydrated (and Rehydrated for use) to improve storage times. They could also be Brined, like a Cucumber.

Culinary Uses

Raw Garlic Scapes have a fresh “green” taste with garlicky notes. In Russia, they are eaten raw as an Appetizer.  

On Smart Kitchen’s Homeplate Garlic Scapes are  Raw (they don’t need to be cooked), Tender, Thin, Moist (86% moisture) and Lean. In Homeplate shorthand they will be (R, T1, T3, M, L,).

In Asian Cuisine, Garlic Scapes are used as they use Scallions.

Domestically, most people use Garlic Scapes as a milder, Garlic substitute. Imagine Garlic Scape Pesto, Garlic Scape in Salsa, on a Pizza or Minced Garlic Scape served over a Tomato Soup as a Garnish and you will have the idea.

Chefs like to push the boundaries though, and note that the texture of a Garlic Scape is more akin to that of a Green Beans. If you are lucky enough to find some, we encourage you to think of them as a mild form of Garlic but also as almost a special, hotter, hybrid, allium-flavored, Green Bean,or Asparagus. A nice thing about Garlic Scapes is that they retain their vibrant green color when cooked.

Thinking about Garlic Scapes as a hybrid yield ideas such as Steamed Garlic Scapes, Sautéed Garlic Scapes, Chopped Garlic Scape added to Salad, Baked Potato, Omelet, Frittata, Stir Fry, etc.

Portion Size

Allow 1-2 t of Garlic Scape per person.

Pairings

BasilBay LeafCaraway Seeds, Cayenne, ChivesCorianderCuminFennel SeedsOreganoPaprikaPepperRosemarySaffronSageSaltSugarTarragonThyme, Beets, BroccoliBell PeppersCabbage, Chile Peppers, CilantroEggplantFennelGingerLeeksMushroomsOnionsParsleyShallotsSpinachTomatoesZucchiniAlmondsBeans, Lentils, BaconBeefChickenEggs, Fish, Lamb, Pork, Shellfish, CheeseCreamLimesLemons, Bread, MustardSoy SauceVinegars, Wine, StocksSaucesSoups

Substitutes

Garlic, Garlic Chives

Nutrition

Garlic Scapes are mostly Carbohydrates.

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

Yes

Low Calorie

Yes