Using garlic scapes gives you an early second harvest from your garlic plants. Garlic scapes are a tasty addition to your early summer menu.
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What are garlic scapes?
Let’s start out our discussion on using garlic scapes by talking about what they are. Garlic scapes are the flower stalks of your garlic plants. Usually, they will look like curly, pigtail-like stems.
If left on the plant long enough they will stand straight up and flower. It’s not really the best idea to leave the flower stalks on your garlic plants. Flowers draw energy away from the bulb and affect the quality and storage length of your garlic.
You most often see garlic Scapes on hard neck garlic varieties. You will see an occasional scape on a soft neck plant, but hard neck varieties always grow scapes. So if you want scapes then you should choose to plant hard-neck varieties.
When to Harvest?
Garlic scapes start to appear about 4 to 6 weeks before the time to actually harvest your garlic bulbs. Scapes will first appear as small stems with this little flower bulb on the end. They will grow to be as long as 2 feet long. They almost immediately start to curl as they grow.
I usually wait until they have at least one and a half curls in them before I harvest them. Scapes are better quality if harvested before the curl starts to straighten out. Once that flower stalk starts to stand up then the scapes lose some of their appeals.
Harvest by simply cutting off the stem where it emerges from the plant. I usually clip them off with a pair of scissors or garden clippers. Be sure to remove them before they start to straighten out and flower. Letting them flower will draw too much energy from the plant and will produce inferior garlic bulbs.
How to use Scapes?
You use Scapes just like you would green onions. You can use the entire scape and cut it up however you like. Scapes have a very mild garlic flavor and will go great in almost any dish that calls for garlic. You can use them in the place of green onions as well, just realize they will have a garlic flavor, not an onion.
Younger scapes (harvested shortly after they form) are very tender and can be eaten raw. As the season progresses the scapes will become woody and less tender and the flavor will also be stronger. These scapes will need a little bit of cooking to tender them up!
We use scapes just like we would garlic and we often add it raw to salads. Here are few other ideas for using your scapes from a few of my blogging friends:
Storing Garlic Scapes
Store harvested Scapes in the fridge. We have had them last as long as 15 days. If you have a lot of scapes plan on using them up quickly or sharing them with family and neighbors.
Each year I leave one plant with the scape attached. I know that when the stalk stands tall the flower head opens that my garlic plants are ready to harvest!
For more information on Growing garlic take a look at these posts and videos: