bunch of curly garlic scapes

Cooking with garlic scapes

garlic scapes with bulb of garlic

What are garlic scapes?

A few years ago I bought garlic scapes from a small produce market in Chinatown in Victoria, but I didn’t know what they were other than that they tasted delicious. Last year was my first year receiving delicious organic veggies delivered to our house from Makaria Farm in Duncan and that is how I became better acquainted with these goodies.

Late spring / early summer is garlic scape time. As garlic stalks grow, they have tender green shoots that curl off the top of the stalk. Many gardeners trim these shoots, otherwise known as scapes, to encourage growth of the garlic bulb. As a bonus, the scapes are a delicious treat! Scapes have a mild garlic smell and do taste like garlic but are not as strong as the cloves. While they can be used raw, cooking mellows the flavour and is often preferred. Don’t cook them too long though as they can get pretty mushy – just a few minutes until they change colour slightly and are still firm

Where I live on Vancouver Island, June is prime garlic scape season. Farmers markets are a great place to find garlic scapes. They have a short window in the market place but they do last for weeks if you store them in a bag or container in the fridge. They also freeze well, even without blanching. Here is a simple recipe for scapes and chard, which are usually both available at the same time. Other recipe ideas follow below.

Sautéed garlic scapes and swiss chard

sauteed garlic scapes and swiss chard


1 bunch chard – roughly chopped (rainbow chard makes this dish more colourful)
1-2 cups diced garlic scapes (bite-sized pieces)
1 tbsp butter
dash salt
freshly ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to pan and sautée a couple minutes, until chard starts to wilt and scapes turn bright green. If desired squeeze some lemon juice on top.

Other things you can do with garlic scapes

Garlic Scape Pesto: In food processor mix a bunch of garlic scapes, 1/2 cup your favourite nuts (pine nuts, cashews, almonds or sunflower seeds work well), 1/2 cup olive oil, fresh basil leaves if you like, a couple squeezes of lemon juice, salt to taste, some grated parmesan if you have it. Use the pesto as a sauce for pasta salad, or instead of tomato sauce on pizza. You can also freeze meal-size batches. Add some kale or spinach to extend and add nutrients.

Try pickling garlic scapes as you would green beans or asparagus like our friends at Farma C organic farm in Lilloet

BBQ scapes with your favourite fish – pickerel, salmon, halibut (suggestion from Andy :D)

Add garlic scapes to any stir fry.

Dice garlic scapes and add to soups or spaghetti sauces.

Sautée chopped scapes with spinach and other greens to make a more flavourful spanakopita (this is what I did with scapes my brother brought over this year).

Chop scapes finely and use as a topping for baked potatoes, or stir into mashed potatoes.

You can even make jelly from garlic scapes!

The photos of the garlic fields below were taken at Makaria Farm, mentioned above: http://www.makariafarm.com/vegetable-share-csa/ All the garlic scapes pictured in this post were grown at Makaria Farm as well.

garlic bulb closeup with scapes

garlic plants in field

garlic plants in field with curling scapes

garlic scape curling shoots


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