Friday, July 2, 2021

Garlic Scapes: The Underappreciated Tasty Treat

Garlic scapes ready to be harvested.

If you’re growing garlic, you may have noticed stalks growing out of the tops of the plant with a small bulb forming on each one.  This stalk is your garlic scape.  It is edible, incredibly delicious and can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.  If you’re not growing garlic, you can find them at the farmers market or your favorite local farm and the tempura recipe below is a great way of enjoying them as well as any other vegetables that you find yourself having lots of.

The garlic scape does only form on hardneck garlic, if you’re growing softneck you won’t find them.  If you are growing hardneck garlic, you don’t have to cut off the scape but it is highly recommended.  The main thinking behind this is if you cut off the scape then the plant will focus all of its energy on the actual garlic bulb (the whole reason you’re growing garlic in the first place) instead of producing seeds, which form on the scape.  I’ve personally never noticed a difference in garlic bulb size in my unofficial experiments that I’ve conducted around this.  The garlic heads with the scape cut off are always the same size as those with the scape left on.  Regardless of that, the garlic scape is an undeniably tasty treat which alone justifies harvesting the scapes.  It’s basically a strong garlic flavor in the form of a green onion.
To cut off the scape:  Once your scape gets one curly Q (which looks like a pigs tail) take your snips and make a cut just above the top garlic leaf, which is the base of the scape.

Cut garlic scape ready to be eaten.

To enjoy the scape:  Eat it raw (if you dare or if you enjoy garlic breath mints), chop into small pieces and add to a salad, add to stir fries, tempura (see recipe below), among many other limitless possibilities.
If you do not cut off the garlic scapes then you’ll get bulbils, which are garlic seeds, which can be planted for more garlic or you can eat them like popcorn for a small garden snack.
Here is a tempura recipe which is great for when you have not only excess garlic scapes but any excess vegetable.  You can tempura anything you’d like, green peppers, zucchini, radishes, and actual garlic cloves are among my favorites.
Tempura Recipe:
-2/3 cup flour
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-Sea salt
-Italian herb mix
-Olive oil (any oil can be used though)
In a pan, add enough olive oil to give you a thin layer amongst the entire pan, turn the burner to medium heat.  Prep your garlic scapes by cutting them into 2-3 in lengths, the small bulb at the end of the scape is edible, prep any other vegetables at this time.  In a bowl add 2/3 cup flour, ½ tsp baking soda, dash of salt and Italian herb mix, mix with a small spoon.  Slowly add seltzer to your bowl, stirring as you pour, until you get a yogurt-like consistency.  Batter your first vegetables and add to the pan with oil.  Cook for about 3 mins a side (or until golden brown) then set aside on a plate.  You want to be sure to not overcrowd your vegetables when you add them to the pan, give them some space.  Once they’ve been set aside, add another dash of salt and Italian herb mix.  Enjoy as-is or dip in the marinara for an even more delightful culinary experience that will have your taste buds dancing.
If you’re more of a visual person, here’s a short video on Instagram showing you what to do.

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