Garlic is an easy crop to grow, and you really get two harvests from it! Scapes are the stalk of the flower of garlic that shoots out from the middle of the plant in early summer. Harvesting scapes isn’t strictly necessary, but if you want the best bulbs possible, then you should cut the scapes because this tells the plant to send its energy into the bulb instead of spending energy on making the flower and seeds. Visit your plants regularly and cut the scapes when they’ve flopped over and are about 8-10 inches long.
Fermented Garlic Scapes
My favourite thing to do with a surplus of many veggies is to lacto-ferment them. It’s very easy to do – much easier than canning, and will preserve them for up to a year, and make the nutrients more bio-available. Fermented veggies make a tasty, tart snack or can be used for cooking.
All you need to do is fill a mason jar with scapes and pour brine on top. Cut off the flower bud ends because they don’t preserve as well as the stalks. You can make a separate ferment with them and eat it sooner. I just cut off all the flower buds, then chopped them to the height of the jar.
Then, bend and coil the stalks into jars, cut them into sticks or chop them up. I like to tie them in knots and fill the gaps with little slices. Check out this post on basic lacto-fermentation for details.
Pickled Garlic Scapes
Pickling with vinegar is common method of preserving veggies, and it can easily be done with garlic scapes.
I followed Rebecca’s recipe at Foodie with Family. My lids didn’t seal on the first try, and I think it was because I let the vinegar mix cool too much before I poured it into the jars. To get the lids to seal, I had to do a water bath, which made my jars look darker. I may have also used a darker cider vinegar.
Garlic Scape Pesto
Preserving is great, but I also want to enjoy whatever’s growing while it’s fresh, so I also made garlic scape pesto. “Pesto” is pretty loosely defined in this case, as many garlic scape pesto recipes don’t even have basil, but I think that’s great because pine nuts are expensive, I don’t always have fresh basil, and I would rather not use parmesan.
I made this delicious Vegan Garlic Scape Pesto from Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows fame, but I didn’t have enough sesame seeds so my seed-to-oil ratio was a bit different. It was still delicious. One thing I would recommend is to chop the scapes fairly fine before processing, because even though I was using a Vitamix, the scapes still seemed to sink under the blades and get stuck.
I didn’t have enough scapes to try all the pesto recipes, but these are the runners up that I wanted to try:
Mary’s Test Kitchen: Garlic Scape Pesto Vegan Recipe It’s a really simple recipe that uses a lot more scapes than the first one.
Next on my list is this Vegan Roasted Pumpkin Seed Pesto from Nourish Everyday, and replacing the cloves with scapes, of course. I love using walnuts in pesto instead of pine nuts, and I used to work at a café that made a pumpkin seed pesto. I don’t have their recipe, but this looks pretty close, so I can’t wait to try it.
Just Eat Them
Of course, the simplest way to use your scapes is just to substitute them for fresh garlic in recipes. You can thinly slice them or mince them and add them to stir-fries, curries and other recipes that call for garlic cloves. They are milder than garlic cloves so you can use them generously when using them to replace cloves, and they are even mild enough to eat them like a vegetable. Try cooking them like green beans or asparagus.
And one more thing I have to mention: Don’t forget to label all your jars!