Food

Garlic Goods

Scapes are great

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The term “scape” describes a structure that emerges from the tops of some garlic plants. Scapes are not flowers, but are often referred to as “garlic flowers,” and are flower-like in many important ways.

For one, they’re beautiful, shooting from the plant like a slow-motion rocket ship. It charts a circular path, with two consecutive 360-degree rotations, like a cartoon pig’s tail. After a few more days the scape will uncurl and stand up straight, three feet off the ground, and the tip will open in a very flower-like way, and produce seed-like structures called bulbules. Thanks to botanical nuance you can’t accurately call them flowers, but you can, at least, call them garlic. More importantly, you can eat them like garlic.

Most large commercial growers prefer to grow the non-scape-producing garlic varieties, collectively called soft-neck garlic. Soft-neck garlic is less work for the grower, precisely because there are no scapes to deal with.

If the scapes aren’t picked, then the growth of the bulbs—the plant part that we typically refer to as garlic—will be stunted. Assuming one is growing a scape-producing hard-neck garlic variety, yanking the scapes will allow the bulbs to grow larger.

Hard-neck garlic varieties are popular with the kind of small-scale farmers that sell at farmers markets, local coops and high-end grocery stores, and these are the places where scapes can be found, sold by the bunch, through June.

Garlic flowers are versatile in the kitchen and fun to work with. They can be cooked like a vegetable, such as in recipes that might call for string beans or asparagus. Or the scapes can be minced and used as a flavoring, as garlic is. The less you cook the scapes, the brighter green they remain, and more spicy, raw garlic flavor is retained. If you cook them until navy green, they will become sweeter and softer.
Garlic growers and scape eaters alike share a common interest in the scape being harvested before or during its curled phase. Once it begins to stand up and straight-end, the scape becomes woody, much as asparagus will.

Waiting this long to harvest the scapes means they end up spending a lot of time on the plant, siphoning resources away from the bulbs. So I harvest my scapes as soon as they appear, pulling straight up on the flowering stalk with a gentle tug, like pulling a blade of grass.

To prepare them, cut off the tip, as they tend to dry out, and check the other ends for any sign of woodiness, and break off any woody ends.

[Recipe]

Garlic Flower Pesto

Ingredients
One dozen scapes
Half-teaspoon of salt
Three (or so) ounces of grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano (a lot of leeway here)
A stalk or two’s worth of basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts, cashew nuts, or the pesto nut of your choice
Squirt of lemon juice and some zesto
Olive oil, as needed (roughly ¾ cup)

In a food processor, whizz the scapes into a green and white confetti. Add salt, cheese, basil, nuts, and lemon to the food processor, and resume spinning. Begin adding olive oil slowly. Add just enough oil so that the pesto just starts to freely vortex like a liquid. Taste, adjust any ingredients you wish, and continue processing until smooth. Adding more basil will tilt the flavor away from garlic pesto and more toward a garlicky basil pesto. Serve with pasta, or whatever else you make with pesto.

SVCR TOP
More Food...
Hot Stuff
The art of fermenting

If you happen upon Kirsten and Christopher Shockey’s website, Ferment Works, the tagline “vegetable + salt + time = yum” might have readers believe the art of fermenting is an easy one.

The equation doesn’t lie.

“Fermenting vegetables into condiments is so simple that even if you think…

more »
Seeing Red
The just desserts of spring

Last spring, for the first time ever, our backyard garden’s strawberry harvest was so prolific that even after enjoying a plethora of smoothies and desserts made with the delicious red orbs—not to mention gobbling them straight from the source for more than a month—we had enough left…

more »
Lovitt
A restaurant with roots

If it’s not made in the restaurant, it’s not served there.

That’s the philosophy at Lovitt Restaurant, which opened recently in the space formerly occupied by the Fairhaven Pub. Owners Norman and Kristen Six relocated to Bellingham from Colville, where they had run a small…

more »
Events
Today
Ski to Sea Book Sale

10:00am|Bellingham Public Library

BC Morgan Horse Show

9:00am| Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

What-A-Sho!

7:00pm|Bellingham High School

Twelfth Night

7:30pm|Philip Tarro Theatre

Julius Caesar

7:30pm|Miller Hall

Wild Things

9:30am|Cornwall Park

Seconds Sale

10:00am|Good Earth Pottery

Seaweed Beach Ramble

10:00am|Living Earth Herbs

Book Trailers

12:30pm|Ferndale Library

Valley writers

1:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Sin & Gin Tours

4:00pm|Whatcom County Tourism

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Ski to Sea Block Party

5:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

School of Rock

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

WWU Orchestra

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

Genre Legends

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tomorrow
Ski to Sea Book Sale

10:00am|Bellingham Public Library

BC Morgan Horse Show

9:00am| Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Julius Caesar

7:30pm|Miller Hall

Twelfth Night

7:30pm|Philip Tarro Theatre

Sin & Gin Tours

4:00pm|Whatcom County Tourism

School of Rock

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Genre Legends

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Hall

Anacortes Farmers Market

9:00am|Depot Arts Center

Mount Vernon Farmers Market

9:00am|Riverfront Plaza

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Sumas Writers Group

10:00am|Sumas Library

Lummi Island Artists Studio Tour

10:00am|Lummi Island

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Low Tide Picnic

11:30am|Marine Park

Stones Throw Block Party

12:00pm|Stones Throw Brewery

Blossomtime Parade

12:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Project Connection

1:00pm|East Whatcom Regional Resource Center

We Are WWU

6:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Salsa Night

9:30pm|Cafe Rumba

Trove Lester and Hyldahl
Sunday
BC Morgan Horse Show

9:00am| Northwest Washington Fairgrounds

Twelfth Night

7:30pm|Philip Tarro Theatre

School of Rock

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Back to the basics

7:00am

Ski to Sea Race

7:00am|Mt. Baker to Bellingham Bay

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Images of Resilience Farewell

12:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Lightcatcher Building

Fairhaven Festival

12:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

1:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Audubon at the Museum

2:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Art of Jazz

4:00pm|Majestic

see our complete calendar »

Northwood Steak and Crab Village Books Bellingham Farmer’s Market Lester and Hyldahl Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Trove