Garlic scapes are the long, curly shoots that appear on the garlic plant in late spring or early summer. These scapes are the flower stems of the garlic plant and if left unharvested they will eventually flower and produce small bulbs. However, many gardeners prefer to remove the scapes before they flower to encourage the garlic plant to put more energy into producing larger bulbs. In addition, garlic scapes are a delicious and versatile ingredient in the kitchen, with a subtle garlic flavour that is milder than the bulbs themselves. In this article we will discuss where and how to cut garlic scapes to get the most out of your garlic crop.
Understanding the anatomy of garlic bulbs
To understand where to cut garlic scapes, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of their anatomy. Garlic scapes are typically long and thin, with a central stem and a series of small bulges running along the length of the stem. At the top of the scape is a small, pointed bulb called an ‘umbel’, which contains the undeveloped flowers and bulbils. As the garlic plant matures, the scape continues to grow and eventually curls up on itself. When it reaches its full length and begins to curl, it is time to harvest the scapes. By cutting the scapes in the right place, you can encourage the garlic plant to put more energy into producing larger bulbs, while enjoying a delicious and versatile ingredient in your kitchen.
When to harvest garlic bulbs
Knowing when to harvest garlic scapes is an important part of getting the most out of your garlic crop. Garlic scapes usually appear on the plant in late spring or early summer, depending on the variety and growing conditions. As the scapes grow, they will eventually start to curl up on themselves. This is a sign that they are ready to be harvested. It’s important to harvest the scapes before they start to flower and produce small bulbs, as this can divert energy from the garlic bulb and result in a lower overall yield. In general, it’s best to harvest garlic scapes when they are still relatively young and tender, before they become too tough and fibrous. Depending on the variety of garlic and growing conditions, this can be anywhere from a few weeks to a month or more after the scapes first appear.
Where to cut garlic cloves
When it comes to where to cut garlic scapes, the aim is to remove the scape while leaving as much of the garlic plant intact as possible. This will ensure that the plant continues to grow and produce a healthy bulb. The ideal place to cut garlic scapes is just above the first set of leaves on the plant, called the ‘bulbils’. This is usually 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) above the base of the plant. To cut the scapes, use sharp scissors or pruning shears to make a clean, diagonal cut just above the bulbils. Take care not to damage the leaves or other parts of the plant when cutting the scapes. If you’re not sure where to cut, it’s better to err on the side of caution and leave a little more of the scape than to cut too close to the plant. With practice and experience, you’ll soon get the hang of where to cut garlic scapes for best results.
How to cut garlic cloves
Cutting garlic scapes is a relatively simple process, but there are a few tips to remember to get the best results. Firstly, always use sharp scissors or pruning shears to make a clean cut. This will minimise damage to the plant and reduce the risk of infection or disease. When cutting the scapes, make sure you hold them firmly but gently to avoid snapping or breaking them. Once you’ve found the ideal place to cut the scapes (just above the first set of leaves), position your scissors or shears at a slight angle and make a quick, clean cut. Avoid sawing or snipping at the scape as this can leave jagged edges that are more susceptible to infection or disease. Once cut, the scapes can be used in a variety of ways, from grilling or roasting to adding to soups, stir-fries and other dishes. With a little practice and care, you can enjoy the delicious flavour and versatility of garlic scapes in your cooking.
Using garlic cloves in cooking
Garlic scapes are a delicious and versatile ingredient in the kitchen, with a subtle garlic flavour that is milder than the bulbs themselves. There are many ways to use garlic scapes in the kitchen, from grilling or roasting them to adding them to soups, stir-fries and other dishes. One of the easiest ways to use garlic scapes is to chop them finely and add them to salads, dips or sauces. They can also be sautéed with other vegetables for a tasty side dish, or used as a pizza topping. Another popular way to use garlic scapes is to make a pesto. Simply blend chopped garlic scapes, nuts (such as almonds or pine nuts), Parmesan cheese and olive oil until smooth. This pesto can be used as a dip, spread or sauce for pasta, pizza and more. With their unique flavour and versatility, Garlic Scapes are a great way to add a burst of garlic goodness to a wide range of dishes.
Recipes with garlic scapes
Garlic scapes are a delicious and versatile ingredient that can add a unique flavour to a wide range of dishes. Here are some recipes using garlic scapes:
- Grilled garlic scapes: Toss garlic scapes with olive oil, salt and pepper, then grill until lightly charred and tender. Serve as a side dish or use in salads, dips or sandwiches.
- Garlic scape pesto: In a food processor, blend chopped garlic scapes, toasted pine nuts, grated Parmesan cheese and olive oil until smooth. Use as a dip, spread or sauce over pasta or pizza.
- Garlic scape soup: Sauté chopped garlic scapes, onions and potatoes in butter until soft, then add chicken or vegetable stock and simmer until vegetables are tender. Blend the soup until smooth, then add the cream and season with salt and pepper.
- Garlic Scape Stir-Fry: Stir-fry chopped garlic scapes with sliced bell peppers, snow peas and thinly sliced beef or tofu. Season with soy sauce, sesame oil and chilli flakes and serve over rice or noodles.
- Garlic Scapes Frittata: Whisk together the eggs, chopped garlic scapes, grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Pour into a greased frying pan and cook until set, then place under the grill until golden brown.
These are just a few ideas for incorporating garlic scapes into your cooking. With their unique flavour and versatility, the possibilities are endless. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things with this delicious and nutritious ingredient!
In conclusion, garlic scapes, with their unique flavour and versatility, are a wonderful addition to any kitchen. By understanding where and how to cut garlic scapes, you can encourage a healthy garlic crop while enjoying a delicious ingredient in your cooking. Whether you’re grilling, roasting, sautéing or blending them into pesto, garlic scapes are a great way to add a burst of garlic goodness to a wide range of dishes. So the next time you’re harvesting garlic, save the scapes and experiment with some new recipes. With their subtle garlic flavour and tender texture, garlic scapes are sure to become a staple in your culinary repertoire.
What are garlic scapes?
Garlic scapes are the long, curly shoots that appear on the garlic plant in late spring or early summer. These scapes are the flower stalks of the garlic plant, and if left unharvested, they will eventually bloom and produce small bulbils.
When should I harvest garlic scapes?
Garlic scapes should be harvested when they have grown to their full length and begin to curl around on themselves. This is typically a few weeks to a month after they first appear on the plant. It’s important to harvest the scapes before they begin to bloom and produce small bulbils, as this can divert energy away from the garlic bulb and result in smaller overall yields.
Where should I cut garlic scapes?
The ideal place to cut garlic scapes is just above the first set of leaves on the plant, which are called “bulbils.” This is typically 4-6 inches (10-15 cm) above the base of the plant. To cut the scapes, use a sharp pair of scissors or pruning shears to make a clean, diagonal cut just above the bulbils.
How should I use garlic scapes in cooking?
Garlic scapes are a delicious and versatile ingredient that can be used in a wide range of dishes. They canbe chopped and added to salads, dips, or sauces, sautéed with other vegetables, grilled or roasted, or used to make pesto. They have a subtle garlic flavor that is milder than the bulbs themselves, making them a great way to add a burst of garlic goodness to your cooking.
Can I use garlic scapes in place of garlic cloves?
While garlic scapes have a similar flavor to garlic bulbs, they are milder and have a slightly different taste. They can be used in place of garlic cloves in some recipes, but it’s important to keep in mind that the flavor will be slightly different. It’s often best to use garlic scapes in dishes where their unique flavor can shine, rather than as a direct substitute for garlic cloves.