sauteed garlic scapes

What to Do with Garlic Scapes from the Garden

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When growing hardneck garlic, juicy bright green tubes with small buds at the end grow from the central stem, these are garlic scapes. Garlic scapes can be roasted, stewed, made into sauces, pickled, and even preserved for the winter.

what to do with garlic scapes from the garden

Garlic scapes

Garlic scapes are the curly, green shoots that emerge from the tops of hardneck garlic plants. The garlic scapes need to be removed in order for the garlic to form a large head. Do not rush to throw them away, they can be used to prepare many useful and delicious dishes.

They have a garlic flavor that is mild and they have a crisp, tender texture. Garlic scapes can be used in cooking in a variety of ways, such as sautéing, roasting, grilling, or pickling. They can add a subtle garlic flavor to dishes like stir-fries, salads, soups, or pesto. Some people also enjoy them simply grilled or roasted as a side dish.

Garlic scapes are often found at farmers’ markets or specialty grocery stores during their short season. They are a versatile ingredient that adds a fresh twist to dishes while celebrating the flavors of early summer.

Check out what to do with excess garlic here.

raw garlic scapes in a strainer

When to harvest garlic scapes

The timing for harvesting garlic scapes depends on the specific variety of garlic you are growing and your local climate. However, as a general rule of thumb, garlic scapes are typically ready to be harvested in late spring or early summer, usually around mid to late June in many regions.

You’ll want to keep an eye on your garlic plants as they grow. Scapes usually start to emerge once the garlic plants have developed several sets of leaves and the bulbs have begun to swell underground. The scapes will appear as curly, green shoots that emerge from the center of the plant.

It’s important to harvest garlic scapes before they fully straighten out and become rigid. Once they start to curl and before they become too woody, they are at their peak tenderness and flavor. Harvesting the scapes also encourages the plant to put more energy into bulb development, resulting in larger garlic bulbs at harvest time.

When harvesting garlic scapes, use a sharp pair of garden scissors or pruning shears to cut the scapes off where they emerge from the main stem of the plant. Be careful not to damage the leaves or the bulbs while harvesting.

If you’re unsure whether your garlic scapes are ready to harvest, you can gently lift one or two to check. If they are still flexible and have a tender texture, they are ready to be harvested. If they feel tough or woody, they may have passed their prime and should be harvested soon to ensure the best flavor and texture.

snipped garlic scapes on a cutting board

What can you do with garlic scapes

The easiest and fastest way is to roast the garlic shoots in a frying pan. They can be served as an appetizer or as a side dish. You can fry them in ghee oil, vegetable oil, butter, or use a mixture of oils. Depending on the frying oil, they are suitable for vegan, keto or low-carb diets.

There are many delicious ways to use garlic scapes in cooking. Here are some ideas:

  • Pesto: Make a garlic scape pesto by blending chopped garlic scapes with toasted nuts (such as pine nuts or almonds), grated Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Use it as a sauce for pasta, spread on sandwiches, or as a dip for vegetables.
  • Sauté: See recipe below.
  • Grill or roast: Toss whole garlic scapes with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then grill or roast them until they are lightly charred and tender. Enjoy them as a simple side dish or chop them up and add them to salads or grain bowls.
  • Pickling: Pickle garlic scapes by packing them into jars with a mixture of vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and spices. See link to recipe below.
  • Stir-fry: Slice garlic scapes thinly and stir-fry them with other vegetables, tofu, or meat in a hot skillet or wok. Season with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and a touch of sesame oil for a flavorful dish.
  • Soup or broth: Add chopped garlic scapes to soups, stews, or broth-based dishes to infuse them with a subtle garlic flavor. They pair well with chicken, potatoes, beans, or leafy greens.
  • Grain salads: Chop garlic scapes and mix them into grain salads such as quinoa, farro, or rice. Combine them with other fresh herbs, vegetables, and vinaigrette for a light and flavorful dish.
garlic scapes sauteed ingredients

How to store garlic scapes

Storing garlic scapes properly can help prolong their freshness and flavor. Here are some methods for storing garlic scapes:

  1. Refrigeration: If you plan to use your garlic scapes within a week or so, storing them in the refrigerator is the best option. Wrap the garlic scapes loosely in a damp paper towel to help maintain their moisture, then place them in a perforated plastic bag or a loosely closed plastic bag. Store them in the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator. Check them periodically and discard any that start to wilt or show signs of spoilage.
  2. Freezing
  3. Pickling
  4. Dehydrating

How to freeze garlic scapes

Freezing garlic scapes is a simple way to preserve them for later use. Here’s how you can freeze garlic scapes:

  1. Prepare the garlic scapes: Wash the garlic scapes thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt or debris. Trim off any tough or woody ends.
  2. Slice or chop the garlic scapes: Decide whether you want to freeze the garlic scapes whole or if you prefer to slice or chop them into smaller pieces. Slicing or chopping them will help them freeze more quickly and evenly.
  3. Blanch the garlic scapes (optional): Blanching can help preserve the color, texture, and flavor of the garlic scapes. To blanch them, bring a pot of water to a boil and add the garlic scapes. Boil them for 1 to 2 minutes, then immediately transfer them to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain the garlic scapes thoroughly before freezing.
  4. Arrange on a baking sheet: Spread the prepared garlic scapes out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Make sure the pieces are not touching each other to prevent them from sticking together.
  5. Flash freeze: Place the baking sheet in the freezer and allow the garlic scapes to freeze individually for about 1 to 2 hours, or until they are firm.
  6. Transfer to a freezer bag or container: Once the garlic scapes are frozen, transfer them to a labeled freezer bag or airtight container. Squeeze out as much air as possible before sealing the bag or container to prevent freezer burn.
  7. Store: Store the frozen garlic scapes in the freezer for up to 6 to 12 months. They will retain their quality best if used within the first few months.

When you’re ready to use the frozen garlic scapes, simply remove the desired amount from the freezer and thaw them in the refrigerator overnight or use them directly in your cooking. Frozen garlic scapes are great for adding flavor to soups, stews, stir-fries, sauces, and other dishes. Enjoy experimenting with this convenient form of preserved garlic scapes!

How to pickle garlic scapes

Pickling garlic scapes is a wonderful way to preserve their unique flavor and enjoy them for an extended period of time. Prepare the garlic scapes by washing them thoroughly under cold water. Trim off any tough or woody ends, and cut them into lengths that will fit comfortably into your jars.

Make refrigerator pickles with your garlic scapes using this same brine recipe that we use to make homemade pickles. They will store in the refrigerator for months and you can pop them out when you wan to enjoy the yummy tangy flavor or add them to a dish. Enjoy your homemade pickled garlic scapes as a tangy and flavorful addition to salads, sandwiches, charcuterie boards, or as a tasty snack straight from the jar!

Dehydrating garlic scapes

Dehydrating garlic scapes is a great way to preserve them for later use. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Prepare the garlic scapes: Wash the garlic scapes thoroughly under cold water to remove any dirt or debris. Trim off any tough or woody ends.
  2. Slice or chop the garlic scapes: Decide whether you want to dehydrate the garlic scapes whole or if you prefer to slice or chop them into smaller pieces. Slicing or chopping them will help them dehydrate more quickly and evenly.
  3. Arrange on dehydrator trays: Lay the garlic scapes out in a single layer on the dehydrator trays. Make sure there is space between each piece to allow for proper air circulation.
  4. Dehydrate: Set your dehydrator to a low temperature, typically around 125°F to 135°F (52°C to 57°C). Dehydrate the garlic scapes for 6 to 8 hours, or until they are completely dry and crispy. The exact time may vary depending on the thickness of the scapes and the humidity in your environment.
  5. Check for doneness: To test if the garlic scapes are fully dehydrated, remove a piece from the dehydrator and allow it to cool for a few minutes. It should be brittle and snap easily when bent.
  6. Store: Once the garlic scapes are fully dehydrated, allow them to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container. You can store them whole or crush them into smaller pieces if desired. Store the dried garlic scapes in a cool, dark place away from moisture and sunlight.

Dried garlic scapes can be rehydrated and used in soups, stews, sauces, or other recipes where you would typically use fresh garlic scapes. They can also be ground into a powder and used as a seasoning or flavoring agent. Enjoy experimenting with this preserved form of garlic scapes in your cooking!

Garlic scapes sauteed

sauteed garlic scapes on a plate garnished with lemon
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Sauteed Garlic Scapes

Tender garlic scapes sauteed for the perfect texture and a mild garlic flavor.
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time20 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: garlic scapes, satueed garlic scapes
Servings: 4
Calories: 103kcal
Author: Christina

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound garlic shoots
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • salt pepper to taste
  • fresh parsley
  • lemon for serving

Instructions

  • Wash garlic sprouts with cold water, strain. Pat dry.
  • With scissors or a knife, cut off the top part of the shoot – the buds. We don’t need them.
  • Cut the garlic scapes into pieces about a half inch long.
  • Pour the olive oil into a skillet. Add the butter. Heat the oil mixture.
  • Place the sections of garlic scapes in the skillet.
  • Sautee over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes. The shoots will become charred and soft; they will pierce easily with a fork.
  • Taste and season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Garnish with lemon and parsley to serve.

Nutrition

Calories: 103kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 8mg | Sodium: 32mg | Potassium: 123mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 484IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg

Garlic scapes are a versatile and delicious ingredient that can be used in a variety of recipes to add a unique and flavorful twist. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner in the kitchen, incorporating garlic scapes into your culinary repertoire is a fantastic way to experiment with new flavors and elevate your dishes.

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