Thursday, June 18, 2015

Vegetable Feature: Garlic Scapes

by Andrea Yoder
Back in the early 90’s garlic scapes were not a vegetable you would’ve seen featured on any menu or in one of our newsletters.  In fact, we used to cut them off the plant and throw them on the ground!  Garlic scapes are a curly shoot that forms on a hardneck garlic plant and grows up from the center of the plant in June.  All of our varieties of garlic are hardneck garlic.  This type of garlic produces scapes as part of nature’ s plan for the plant to propagate itself.  The scape extends from the middle of the plant and forms a small bulb on its end.  If left to choose its own destiny, that bulb would eventually tip over and plant itself in the soil.  We want the garlic plant to focus its energy into producing a nice bulb of garlic, so we remove the scape from the plant.
We were the first farm in the Midwest to start saving the scapes and actually encouraging people to eat them.  In the early 90’s there was a woman from Korea who asked us to save the garlic scapes for her so she could make pickles.  We thought this was odd (remember we used to throw them on the ground), but saved some for her anyway.  She shared a jar of pickled scapes with us and we realized how good they are for eating!  We stopped throwing them away and started eating them!
Nearly the entire scape is edible.  They are best when harvested young and tender. I recommend trimming off the skinny end near the little bulb and sometimes you’ll need to trim the other end a bit as well.  The entire scape is edible and doesn’t need to be peeled….Easy!  Scapes have a bright, mild garlic flavor.  They can be used in any recipe that calls for garlic cloves, just chop them up and add them as you would clove garlic.  You can turn them into a simple pickle, or you can do a whole host of things with them including tossing them on a grill and then using them as a topping for a pizza. They are a great addition to eggs, are tasty when mixed with butter to use as a spread, or toss them into a stir-fry.
They’ll keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.  You could also take advantage of their unique & dramatic appearance and use them as a decorative item on your table for a few days before you decide to use them!

Pickled Garlic Scapes
Recipe borrowed from the blog Foodie with Family (
Yield:  1 pint
1 bunch garlic scapes (washed and trimmed)
¾ cup apple cider vinegar
¾ cups water
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon raw sugar (can substitute granulated white sugar if necessary)
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon mustard seed (not ground mustard)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (can omit if you’re sensitive to heat)
¼ teaspoon coriander seeds (not ground coriander)

  1. Coil each garlic scape and insert into a sterilized pint mason or ball jar. When you have filled the jar to within ¼ –inch of the top of the jar, coil or break any extra scapes and stuff them down into the center of the jar. When the jar is full of scapes, add the spices to the jar. Set aside.
  2. Bring the apple cider vinegar, water, salt, and sugar to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Carefully pour the boiling brine over the garlic scapes. The garlic scapes will probably pop up and look like they are trying to get out of the jar. Use a sterile chopstick or butterknife to push it back into the jar. Wipe the rims of the jars, then fix the lid tightly into place. Let the jars come to room temperature before storing in the refrigerator for 6 weeks before opening and tasting. Be patient. It’s worth it!
  3. The pickled garlic scapes will store well for up to 8 months when stored tightly covered in the refrigerator. If at any point the scapes stick above the brine and develop mold, remove the entire scape that has mold. The rest should still be alright.

Garlic Scape & Cilantro Pesto

This recipe was recently published in the Edible Madison, Season by Season 5th Anniversary Edition. We’d encourage you to take a look at this publication, either in print or online: or at their website: It features seasonal recipes contributed by seasonal cooks and chefs from the region.  Dani Lind is responsible for this recipe.  Dani is a long time friend of Harmony Valley Farm and a talented chef and owner of Rooted Spoon Culinary in Viroqua.  If you’re in our area this summer, check out her website to see what special events she has going on.  (

Serves 6 (Makes approximately 1 ½ cups)
1 cup garlic scapes (6 to 8 scapes, or about 1 bunch), cut into 1-inch pieces, tips removed and     discarded
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds, toasted and cooled
1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems coarsely chopped
⅓ cup cold-pressed sunflower oil
2 tsp lime juice or apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine scapes and pumpkin seeds in food processor and pulse until coarsely ground.  
  2. Add cilantro, lime juice and oil;  pulse until evenly chopped.  Season with salt and pepper.  Use within a week in the fridge or freeze.

**HVF Serving suggestions:  Toss with hot pasta and grated cheese for a quick dinner;  Stir into scrambled eggs, use as a spread on a sandwich, mix with sour cream or plain yogurt and use as a dip for fresh veggies.

No comments: