Garlic Scape Facts
The weekly spotlight is shared with permission from Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook, by
Mi Ae Lipe
Green garlic is one of spring’s first much-anticipated crops. Green garlic is simply the juvenile stage of the familiar cured bulb garlic that we all know so well—parts of the new plant sprouting from the cloves. Green garlic refers to the entire plant; garlic scapes are the long, curly shoots bearing immature flower clusters that form on hard neck garlic plants in early summer. (Scapes are also sometimes called whistles, stems, flowers, spears, or tops.) When recipes call for green garlic, the scapes, flowers, leaves, or very young bulbs are interchangeable. Recipes specifying scapes or whistles refer to just the long stems and flowers.
These curling flower stalks are delicious and have many uses, from soups and salads to main dishes and garnishes. Stronger and richer in flavor than chives, green garlic’s pungency is milder than that of its cured-bulb siblings. Use it any way that you would use shallots or regular garlic. (Jack Hedin of Featherstone Farm claims that you have only to fill your roasting pan with meat and green garlic and cook it slowly to taste the richest roast ever made.) Garlic scapes are highly prized delicacies in European and Korean cuisine because of their subtle garlic flavor, tender-crisp texture, and nutraceutical potency.
Some vegetables do not store well after being washed, getting slimy if not used immediately; green garlic is one of them. To keep the scapes crisp, forgo a quick rinse and instead store them in a brown paper bag in the refrigerator, where they will last for weeks.
Stir-Frying and Sautéing
Add green garlic to stir-fries during the last several minutes of preparation. To sauté green garlic, slice 6 to 8 stalks into thin rounds and sauté in a couple of tablespoons of butter or olive oil for at least 10 minutes.
Microwave green garlic like you would green onions. Chop into 1- or 2-inch pieces, place in a microwave-safe container containing ½ inch of water, cover, and microwave on high power for 3 to 5 minutes. After draining, they are ready to use in cooked dishes.
Blanching and Freezing
If you cannot use your green garlic right away, chop the scapes into 1-inch pieces, place them in zipper-lock freezer or vacuum food sealer-type bags or freezer containers, and squeeze out the excess air. They will keep for about 6 to 8 months at 0°F, if you can resist using them for that long
• Steam rice until it is about 80 percent cooked; take three green garlic shoots and place right on top of the rice; the garlic will wilt, releasing its aromatic juices down into the rice.
• Finely chop a tablespoon or two of green garlic and add it to your tuna fish salad. Delicious as a sandwich filling, or by itself!
• Combine green garlic (cut into 1-inch lengths), basil, pine nuts, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and lemon juice in a food processor or mortar to make a delicious pesto.
• Throw sautéed green garlic into pasta salads and salad dressings.
• Chop up garlic shoots and mix with ground beef for the best grilled hamburgers you’ve ever tasted.