As someone who used to be a very picky eater, I am constantly learning about new fruits and vegetables to experiment with. This week the SAMM Van offered garlic scapes, which I had never seen before! I was intimidated by the scapes when I first saw them and noticed that a few people had puzzled expressions when inspecting them as well. Because of this I decided to do some research. It turns out that they are the flower part of the garlic plant and that they are removed from the bulbs in order to let them “bulk up” and grow more. If they aren’t removed they can bloom into flowers. They resemble scallions with thin, green stalks except they tend to curl up almost into a circle. Scapes taste like garlic and are a good source of calcium, vitamin C, and protein.
After I learned what garlic scapes were, I was wondering what you could do with them. I found that they are a great add-in to many foods to enhance the flavor such as dressings, dips, and fried rices. Anything that you would add garlic to, you can add scapes to as well. A popular recipe that involves cooking with scapes is pesto. Instead of basil, you simply add garlic scapes (Carlee posted a great pesto recipe last week). You can also have them on their own by grilling them and pouring some lemon juice on top or you can saute them. During my research I found that quite a few people think that the flavor can be strong and pungent. One way to reduce the intensity, according to chef Rhoda Boone, is to boil them in salt water for 30 seconds then place them in an ice bath. From there you just dry them off and cook them how you planned to.
Like many other vegetables, it may be difficult to find ways to store and preserve them. They usually last between 2 and 3 weeks when refrigerated. If you want to keep them fresh and flavorful for several weeks at a time you can chop them up, but them in a bag, and freeze them. After learning how to use them I’m definitely going to add them to my grocery list. The ones we used for our Thursday market were from Brandmoore Farm in Rollinsford, NH. They are in season for another few weeks so swing by one of our markets or a farm in the area to pick some up!