If you grow your own garlic at home, you will get two harvests off of hardneck garlic plants. There are some stiff, curly flower stems that are not only edible, but should be removed to improve the garlic bulbs! Here’s your complete guide on how to harvest garlic scapes.
There are also some delicious recipes at the bottom for ways to use up these crazy looking curley-q green stalks, so even if you get your garlic scapes at a local farmers market, you don’t want to skip reading this.
WHAT IS A GARLIC SCAPE?
If you planted garlic last fall, then in late spring or early summer, typically around June, a hardneck variety of garlic will form a spiral stem above the ground. This is the flower stalks of hardneck garlic and is the garlic scape. The purpose for this is to form a flower and then go to seed. However, if you cut the scape off, the plant’s energy will go toward the bulb size instead of the flowers. When the plants strength is redirected, it produces a larger bulb of garlic.
Hardneck garlic is typically grown in the northern hemisphere, in the cooler climates. Softneck garlic is grown in the south, in the warmer climates. Softneck varieties also have more bulbs, however hardneck garlic varieties have larger garlic bulbs.
These flowers will produce small bulbils, which are basically tiny bulbs. These can be planted to produce garlic, however these take a few years to get a decent sized bulb.
After the scapes are ready, you can be sure that the garlic harvest will be in about a month!
HOW TO HARVEST GARLIC SCAPES
To harvest your garlic scapes, wait until the stalk is spiraling upward. You want one loop or close to one loop. Once it reaches that point, cut as far down as you can with a sharp pair of scissors without removing any leaves. Basically, right about the first leaves.
If you wait longer than one loop, you can still harvest the garlic scapes, they just won’t be as nice as the scape toughens up. However, I have missed garlic scapes before and still used scapes that were past their prime.
Harvesting is best done in the late morning or early afternoon. This allows the cut some time to heal and is less susceptible to disease. Not all the garlic scapes will be ready at once, so visit often to get them all.
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HOW TO EAT GARLIC SCAPES
Garlic scapes taste like a mild garlic flavor. You can use them like green onions. You can use the entire scape, but I normally cut off where the bulb formation begins and just throw that in a bag full of veggies for broth making.
- Garlic scapes are great in soups and stews. Saute them to add flavor to your veggies. Add garlic scapes to pasta or any other meal that could use a little extra flavor. The mild flavor of garlic scapes are many people’s favorite way to take a recipe from mediocre to grand.
- Freeze or dehydrate the garlic scapes.
- Use garlic scapes in your homemade chicken broth.
- Chop up the fresh garlic scapes (a food processor speeds this up) and freeze them in ice cube trays or an herb freezer tray. That makes it easy to pop out later and just throw in a soup or stew. Make it even better by adding fresh basil leaves.
- Add to a stir fry.
GARLIC SCAPE RECIPES
HOW TO STORE GARLIC SCAPES
Store garlic scapes in plastic bags (think a Walmart bag) or brown paper bag. Keep them in the refrigerator for a few weeks.
Alternatively, if you know you are going to be using them within 48 hours, place the in a jar with a few inches of water and they will keep on the counter.