This weekend we’ll have the season’s first garlic scapes. These are the tender young flower stems of hardneck garlic, which begin to emerge about a month before the heads are ready. They should be removed to force the plant’s energy into bulbing. The easiest way to harvest scapes is to cut them off, but that wastes the best part: the tender, flavorful stem within the plant itself. With equal parts luck and skill, you can gently but firmly tug on the scape and convince it to break near the base of the plant, then be drawn up through the long, almost 2-foot stalk of the plant to emerge as a tender, coiled garlic scape. If harvested too late, scapes will become tough and woody, but the young, tender scapes are a true highlight of seasonal fare for us.
We sell ours in grades; highest price for those we’ve extracted successfully intact, and lower prices for smaller ones and broken ones that don’t have the inner portion. Use scapes like garlic scallions; chopped into anything they add a nice flavor. I particularly like them with eggs and soup. Another more creative way to use them involves making pesto; read our recipe here with a photo.
We love scapes for their tender texture and fresh garlic flavor and always enjoy their brief season. And it’s a good sign that the true garlic harvest is growing near.