Garlic and Garlic Scapes

Garlic is not simply the bulbs with which we are so familiar. As they grow there is sturdy green flower stem called a scape. Garlic scapes are one of the more curious items people encounter at a CSA. In honor its diversity we bring you a Cooking Tips double header.

Garlic Scapes


What is it and what can I do with it?

The following post will provide much greater, more exciting details about garlic. For now we will focus on demystifying those strange little curly strands. About a month before garlic is ready to harvest the scapes’ serpentine growth needs to be stopped or it will ultimately. While it is a pretty purple flower it does not pollinate and grows at the bulb’s expense. Vitamins and minerals are limited in this item with about 20-30% of the RDA in Vitamin C and 10% of calcium and 13% of iron per half cup. The minerals and other properties will be addressed in the garlic section.

With a mild garlic flavor the upper parts are soft and can be eaten raw in salads. The further toward the plant’s base they are firmer and generally require cooking. Beyond salads, they can be added to most anything to add a subtle garlic flavor and some color. Grilled, sautéed, stir fried, blended into pesto, cooked with eggs or potatoes for breakfast, added to soups or curries, the possibilities are almost endless.


Yep, you guessed it, high humidity in the crisper drawer.  These will keep for a month or more, but you may want to keep them in their own bag or container to prevent the smell from migrating.


Super simple. Wash and cut as you like. If grilled like asparagus they can be left intact, except possibly checking to the thicker end is tender enough. Any portion that is trimmed can be cut into small pieces. If sautéing or adding to other dishes 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces cook pretty quick and are not too strong.



What is it and what can’t I do with it?

Garlic comes in two forms: softneck and hardneck. The latter is closer to wild garlic and is more common with medicinal uses. As a proud member of the allium family its relatives include onions, shallots, leeks, scallions, and chives. Often used to add its flavor to meals the nutritional benefit is tempered, yet it does offer modest amounts of vitamin B-6, copper, iron, manganese, Selenium, and calcium. Yet the star of the show and word of the day is allacin. Some would argue that allacin has the upper hand on penicillin as it is an antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral that is also anticancer and anticlotting. For the science nerds, the allacin helps the body produce nitric oxide, relaxing blood vessels and improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure. To bring out the allacin it is recommended whether you chop, mince, slice or mash it, let it stand for 10 minutes before cooking. This allows for the allacin to activate.

Used creatively garlic can go with any recipe. Ice cream is a wonderful example. We challenge you to come up with a single way garlic can’t prepared. If we can’t find a recipe we will invent one and bring it to a pick up for sampling.


To keep garlic as long as possible it is best at a cooler temperature, with airflow and out of direct light. In other words don’t place it in a glass container on top of the oven in a sunny kitchen. It can also be stored in a refrigerator but the humidity must stay low or it is likely to grow and/or turn soft. There will be no odor so long as the skin stays on and it isn’t chopped. Did you know the longer it is stored the pungency and allacin increases?


There are many ways to peel garlic, however when presentation is not a concern it is most efficient to smash it with the flat side of a knife.

Does anyone have any good ways to peel the clove while keeping it intact?


3 thoughts on “Garlic and Garlic Scapes

  • Garrison Benson

    When I feel like I’m starting to get sick (that icky feeling in the back of my throat), I chop up a clove or two of raw garlic and eat it in a spoonful of honey. In addition to boosting my immune system, it keeps my loved ones at a safe distance.

  • Jennifer Wolthuis

    I get as many garlic scapes as I can to make and freeze garlic scape pesto. It is good on lots of things, but especially on homemade pizza! My boy is allergic to nuts, so I substitute raw or toasted pepitas for the traditional pine nuts, and you can’t even tell.

    1/4 lb garlic scapes (about 8-12), coarsely chopped
    1 c. grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
    3 T. fresh lime or lemon juice
    3 T. toasted pine nuts
    salt to taste
    Drizzle of olive oil

    Put it all in a food processor and process. Add more olive oil until you get it the consistency you like.

  • Bruce Jones

    Yesterday at the pick up we had samples of a kale/scape pesto I threw together a few days ago. The following is an approximation and other considerations. Please read Jennifer’s recipes in this post and chard for other ideas.

    8-10 kale leaves, ribs removed.
    2 garlic scapes cut in half inch pieces
    1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
    2-3 T lemon juice
    2 T pine nuts (toasted)
    salt to taste

    Place all but salt in a food processor and blend to desired consistency (be sure the oil has emulsified). Salt to taste.

    I did not add cheese to this pesto as I have been using it as a condiment on sandwiches. I would likely add a little more oil if using it with pasta.

    Note: Jennifer mentions almonds in the her chard pesto. Other options for nuts in pestos include walnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts.

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