An Ode to Garlic (Scapes)


Most people fantasize about crisp asparagus, stalks of tender rhubarb or sweet, juicy strawberries as spring draws near. I might be the only exception. As soon as the weather starts to warm and greenmarkets gradually switch their produce offerings from cellared root vegetables and apples to bright greens that signal Spring is here to stay, I have only one thing on my mind: Garlic Scapes.

We met only a few years ago but after an intense courtship, a lasting love flourished. It was during a typical CSA pickup that we first met. I was baffled by the slender wildly curly rope-like creature. I considered it might be a new crop that flourished in the rich soil of the Black Dirt Region. Or a new hybrid, recently discovered.  I tucked it away with the rest of my CSA bounty, resolving to put it to good use.

Little did I know, this smooth green stalk that would soon win over my heart was not a new plant, the stem from which a garlic bulb grows. Tough but tender, you’ll need a good knife to slice these stems apart. Scapes never reach the intensity that a whole garlic clove would possess, so instead you’re left with a mild garlicky scented plant, crispy with both a sweet and spicy garlic flavor. They can be substituted for garlic cloves in nearly any dish, leading to a more delicate infusion of flavor.

Being a garlic fiend (and now even bigger scape fiend) I savor these treasures as often as possible during the short early Spring season—sautéed with brown butter over steak, blended into hummus or pesto, grilled as a crunchy burger topping or sometimes just raw off the stalk (my husband knew I was a garlic fiend before we married, but the scape discovery came shortly after our wedding. Luckily.).

Garlic scapes are only available in early spring, April or May, alongside or even slightly before asparagus starts taking over the greenmarkets. They are harvested immediately as soon as they mature in order to allow the plant to focus its energy on producing the garlic bulb. Scapes should be stored unwashed and loosely packed in a container or paper towels in your vegetable crisper. They will generally keep about up to 2 weeks, but I’ve had some resilient ones that lasted over a month.

A Few of My Favorite Recipes

White Bean and Garlic Scape Dip by Brown Eyed Baker
Okonomiyaki with Garlic Scapes by Five and Spice
Pickled Garlic Scapes by One Green Tomato
Bacon Wrapped Garlic Scapes by Well Fed, Flat Broke

45 thoughts on “An Ode to Garlic (Scapes)

    • Thanks! I sometimes make a pesto that’s pretty much just scapes. We had some leftover in the freezer and my husband was ashamed to take it to work because it was so intense. Embrace the garlicky-ness!

  1. I love garlic scapes. We get them with our CSA! Sometimes we use them in pesto but I also use them in place of garlic…such a treat!

    • It’s definitely something I could never tire of. Someone needs to start growing them in greenhouses or something so they’ll become year round!

  2. You’re not at exception, I also love the scape! My favourite use for them is pesto, and I’ve found that they also freeze well. I’m excited to try the recipes you linked to, especially the white bean dip!

    • Do you freeze them whole? I freeze them as pesto but never considered otherwise. Need to try! I’m most excited for the bacon recipe. I found it more recently and have yet to try it. But really…bacon and garlic scapes? How could you go wrong?

    • I cut them up in chunks (1-2 inches long) and freeze them in a freezer bag. That way it’s easy to take out just how much you need! I’ve frozen them as pesto as well. Bacon and garlic scapes does sound like an amazing combo!

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    • They’re a bit milder and look much prettier. Think about it, would you rather have chunks of white-brown stuff on your burger or beautiful crispy green flecks? Thanks so much for stopping by!

  10. I haven’t cooked with garlic scapes, but I love garlic and reading your post definitely made my mouth water and want to try them out. Thanks for sharing, and happy SITS day 🙂

    • Highly recommend garlic scapes! They’re a bit milder, plus look pretty. Somehow eating whole roasted garlic scapes appears more normal and socially acceptable than biting into a bulb of garlic. Anyway I can get my fix 🙂

  11. I LOVE garlic. This is the second post I’ve seen this week that mentions garlic scapes. I clearly need to buy (or grow) some. And I’m totally checking out the bacon-wrapped garlic scapes. Does it get any better?

    • Hmm, bacon wrapped scapes wrapped in extra bacon? Haha. If you grow garlic, you automatically get the bonus scapes. Otherwise check out your farmer’s market. It’s getting close to the end of the season but you should still be able to find some.

  12. Oh, I’m a garlic fiend, too! My husband and I discovered scapes last year at a farmer’s market and it’s so nice having another garlicky thing to add to stir fry or hummus, or even a fresh salad. I hadn’t seen that recipe for white bean and garlic scape dip- thanks!

  13. I’ve never tried scapes, but I will say it was a CSA basket that finally got me to fall in love with garlic. I have avoided it for 33 of my years, but for some reason that CSA basket prompted me to try it. Now I put it in almost everything I eat! 🙂

    • Avoided garlic for 33 years? I’m not sure what to think! I’m in the mindset that there is never too much garlic. One of my favorite things is roasting the bulbs whole and spreading it on bread like butter.

    • Haha, thanks so much! If you haven’t tried them yet I highly recommend you seek some out ASAP. They will change your life. Plus they’re cute and curly and just make you feel happy 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

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