A few people have asked here and on Facebook about Green Garlic and Garlic Scapes. I used both in last night’s dinner (a second run at last week’s pesto) and thought I’d check in with a quick discussion of these tasty spring treats.
Both green garlic and garlic scapes are products of the grower’s spring maintenance work on the later garlic crop. They share a light garlicky flavor and a relatively short window of availability.
When one gets “green garlic,” one is getting the entire garlic plant, from roots to leaves. The plant is immature and has been pulled from the field as the farmer thins the crop.
Botanically, a scape is a flowering plant stem, usually without leaves. Hardnecked garlic needs to be pinched back in the spring for the best development during the growing season, so growers cut off the young scapes. They are smaller and more tender than the stalk of green garlic.
As you see in the photo, this particular head of green garlic was more mature than most, and even has a scape of its own still attached. This head was actually much less tender than the rest of my green garlic, and was less usable. The smaller, more tender specimens cut and cook better. May people will sautee garlic scapes whole and eat them as a vegetable all by themselves!
The time to enjoy these treats passes quickly! I see lots around at roadside stands, if you haven’t been lucky enough to get some through a CSA, stop and pick some up.