Garlic is one of those rare crops that gives you two harvests. First the scapes, which at least in Ontario, are usually ready to harvested around summer solstice. The actual garlic bulbs are harvested a bit later, typically on the first weekend in August. The bulbs can then be left to dry in the sun for a few days before storing for the winter.
If you haven’t tried garlic scapes, they are like a sweeter, milder version of garlic. They make a particularly good pesto that can be used on pizza, pasta, bruschetta or any other way you might choose to use pesto. This version is dairy-free, vegan, and gluten-free. It also freezes well.
Scapes can also be pickled or served as a green vegetable – lightly grilled and tossed with butter and salt and pepper.
If you don’t grow you own garlic, you can usually purchase scapes at most farmers markets when they are in season. The season is fairly short – so don’t dilly dally too long or you’ll miss out. If you’re growing garlic – the general rule of thumb is that once you get a true curl in the garlic scape – they are ready to be harvested. Don’t let them get old and tough – the scapes won’t be useful and not harvesting the scapes means your garlic bulb won’t be as big.
Select scapes which are curly. Wash them thoroughly and use only the tender parts of the stem – discarding the tough bits and the white flower bud.
Garlic scapes are rather beautiful in a vase with a little water. And they also keep longer once harvested this way too.
Garlic Scape Pesto
(this version is an adaptation of the recipe in A Taste of Wintergreen)
16-20 garlic scapes
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup walnut pieces
¼ tsp salt
Parmesan cheese as desired. I make mine without the cheese because I think it freezes better and that way it’s also vegan and dairy-free.
Wash the scapes and chop into approximately 1 inch pieces. Process all the ingredients together in the food processor until desired consistency is reached. Bottle and use within a week or freeze.