Everything you need to know to create spectacular dishes with green garlic and garlic scapes, including season, selection, storage, preparation, cooking, and great flavor partners.
Spring has arrived in the Northwest when the first bunches of green garlic show up at Portland Farmers Market. That’s always a momentous day for me, signaling the end of winter and the promise of blue skies and sunny days just ahead.
Both green garlic and garlic scapes are immature byproducts of bulb garlic. Green garlic hits Northwest farmers markets in early March, while garlic scapes appear briefly in late May to early June.
Green garlic is much milder and juicier than mature, hardened garlic bulbs.
Green garlic arrives in Northwest farmers markets in early March.
Look for stalks that are firm and brilliant green. Early in the season, the bulb portion of green garlic is as slim as green onion or leek. Later in the season, the bulb begins to take of a bulbous form. Both make for might fine eating, with the more mature green garlic a bit more assertive in flavor.
Store in a loosely sealed plastic bag in the fridge for a week or longer.
Remove the root end and green leaves at the top. Only the white and pale green portions (6-7 inches) are edible. Because green garlic is so mild, you’ll get the most flavor from it by mincing finely.
Green garlic can be eaten raw or cooked. It’s marvelous raw in pesto, vinaigrette, and gazpacho. Or it can be slowly sautéed in the same manner as onions, shallots, garlic, and leeks. However, it doesn’t “melt” the way leeks and onions do, but instead retains its shape and crunch.
With their mellow, savory garlic-chive-green onion flavor, green garlic pairs well with everything with which garlic pairs well. The list is long and includes just about every savory ingredient under the sun, but consider almonds, bacon, basil, bread, butter, cream, cumin, eggplant, eggs, fennel, ginger, leeks, lemon, mayonnaise, mushrooms, mustard, olive oil, parsley, pasta, potatoes, rice, rosemary, shallots, thyme, tomato, and zucchini. The only issue with pairing green garlic with other flavors is its mildness. You’ll need plenty of green garlic to balance stronger flavor partners.
Garlic scapes are the curled flower stalks of a variety of hardneck garlic. The tender curled stalks appear on the garlic plant a month or so after the leafy stem, at which point they are removed to enhance growth of the bulb.
Garlic scapes can be found in Northwest farmers markets briefly in late May and early June.
Look for long, gently curvy stalks that are firm, smooth, and brilliant green. The best garlic scapes are the early ones, with only one curl and the “beak” just visible above the leaves. They’re tender enough to eat raw. As garlic scapes mature, they curl dramatically and become fibrous and bitingly hot. Mature garlic scapes are still tasty but may need peeling and quick cooking to soften and tame them.
Refrigerate loosely sealed in a plastic bag for up to two weeks. For longer storage, blanch and freeze for up to three months.
Although the entire scape is edible, with a mild, garlicky flavor, the pod and tip above it (known as the beak) can be fibrous and may need to be discarded. When possible, consider using the scapes whole, for drama. For instance, they look stunning draped across flatbread or pizza. Or side-by-side in a rectangular tart.
Early garlic scapes have a mild garlic flavor and are tender enough to eat raw. They get tougher as the season progresses, and are then best cooked to soften.
Young, tender garlic scapes can be used raw in salads, dips, and spreads, or as a garnish. Blend them into hummus, pesto, vinaigrette, or butter to spread over grilled vegetables, flatbread, crostini, or pizza.
Garlic scapes are milder and sweeter when cooked. They can be cooked in just about any manner–steamed, blanched, roasted, grilled, or sautéed. Sautéing them briefly releases their volatile oils. When grilling, slather them in olive oil or vinaigrette to protect their skins from the heat.
With their mellow, savory garlic-chive-green onion flavor, garlic scapes pair well with everything with which garlic pairs well. The list is long and includes just about every savory ingredient under the sun, but consider almonds, bacon, basil, bread, butter, cream, cumin, eggplant, eggs, fennel, ginger, leeks, lemon, mayonnaise, mushrooms, mustard, olive oil, parsley, pasta, potatoes, rice, rosemary, shallots, thyme, tomato, and zucchini. The only issue with pairing garlic scapes with other savory flavors is its mildness. Because it’s so special and the season is brief, you’ll want to let it dominate whatever flavor pairing you select.
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Cookin’ with Gas (inspiration from around the web)
- A Garlic Primer | Mississippi Market
- All About Green Garlic & Garlic Scapes | About Food
- Everything You Need to Know about Garlic Scapes | Food & Wine
- Garlic Scape Primer | The Fridge Whisperer
- Garlic Scape Recipes: What They Are And How To Cook Them | HuffPost Taste
- Garlic Scapes | Fine Cooking
- Grassy, Sweet & In Season | New York Times
- In Season: Green Garlic & Garlic Scapes | Green Your Plate
- Real Food Right Now and How to Cook It: Garlic Scapes | Grace Communications Foundation
- What are Garlic Scapes | About Home