Gorgeous Garlic Scapes

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One of my favourite things to eat is butter, (and cheese, this girl could never be vegan), and one of my second favourite things to eat is garlic. And when the two are combined it’s a deadly combination of deliciousness. This weekend I made a big batch of garlic scape butter, enough to last me at least six months, or so I hope. Once I make the mint green goodness, I eat it on everything, everyday. Last summer my roommates caught me scraping crackers off the top of the garlic butter and eating it straight up. Yikes, get fat or dying trying!
Garlic scapes are a great culinary treat because they have a stronger garlic flavour than the bulb itself. They can be used in any method of cooking like garlic heads; sautéed, roasted, in soups, salad dressings, in sirfrys, BBQed and even pickled. The most common way to prepare garlic scapes is by making a pesto with parm cheese, nuts and seeds, olive oil, and spices. Last week Elaina made a roasted parsnip and garlic scape dip, with a hint of maple syrup. I was skeptical at first, but the sweet and garlic spicy was so fantastic that I found myself fingering the bowl when no one was looking at lunch. I took the parsnip garlic dip to the Cobourg farmers market on Saturday and it sold out rapidly. Everyone loves garlic, in any shape or form.
Garlic scapes are the flower stems that emerges off the garlic plant in late spring, early summer. It is a green solid stalk that curls around in a loop like a roller-coaster, and needs to be harvested before the white flower head develops and opens. Growers often remove the garlic scape to push the plants energy into bigger garlic bulbs, for the remaining of the season. When harvested at the earliest time, the scapes are tender and delicious.
The scapes grow up straight out of the top of the plant for a couple of inches and then begin to curl. This curling is due to the variety of garlic, and caused by the cells on one side of the stalk lengthening before the cells on the other side. The number of curls the scape will achieve depends on the type of garlic, and can curl two, three or four times before straightening out and proceeding to open the flower head, which looks similar to a chive flower.
Harvesting the scapes is a fun and easy task. It is best done with a knife or scissors in the heat of the day, so the open wound where the cut happens can scab over and prevent any bacteria from entering the plant. Garlic scapes are harvested all at the same time, and the season only lasts one to three weeks. so get to your farmers market get the gorgeous green garlic scapes and experiement!
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