In Season: Garlic Scapes

In addition to my standard share, every week my CSA offers “extras” for free. Often, these are herbs or chile peppers, but a few weeks ago they were giving away garlic scapes. The green, curling tops of garlic plants, scapes are usually trimmed off the plant in mid-summer, helping to produce a larger garlic bulb at harvest. Once destined for the compost pile, recent years have seen a growing interest in this seasonal product, and many chefs now use them in recipes as an alternative to garlic cloves.


I’ve known about garlic scapes for years, but no one I knew had used them much in their cooking. Tasting one, I found it reminded me of a cross between a scallion and traditional garlic. Crunchy, almost like a string bean, with a green, fresh garlic flavor, I immediately thought this was potentially more versatile than garlic cloves.  

I experimented with the scapes over several weeks. Trimmed and cut into 2″ pieces, I used them in a stir-fry. Chopped into pea-size pieces, I mixed them with fresh corn kernels, string beans, and basil to make a modern succotash. Pureed in the blender with mustard, oil, lemon juice and scallions, they produced a flavorful vinaigrette. This was probably my favorite way to prepare the garlic scapes. Pureed with the other ingredients, the scapes made the dressing almost creamy and gave the vinaigrette a garlicky flavor, without the harsh, pungent quality raw cloves can have.  

After several weeks in my refrigerator, I feared their lifespan was getting short and I decided to pickle the scapes I had left. Packed in a brine of vinegar, salt, and sugar, I now have enough scapes to make a few more batches of vinaigrette.  

Garlic Scape Vinaigrette

Makes 1 cup

  • 3 garlic scapes, tops removed and chopped
  • 1 large scallion, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Combine the scapes, scallion, mustard and lemon juice in a blender. Puree until smooth.
  2. While the blender is running, slowly add the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Pickled Garlic Scapes

Makes 1 pint

  • 12-16 garlic scapes, tops removed, stems trimmed
  • 1 jalapeno or pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 2 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  1. Place the garlic scapes into a pint jar. Pack them tightly, curling the scapes and cutting them, if needed, to help them fit. Add the jalapeno or red pepper flakes, peppercorns, and dill.
  2. Combine the water, cider vinegar, kosher salt and sugar in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved.
  3. Pour the brine over the garlic scapes, filling the jar to the top. Make sure all the scapes are submerged in the brine.
  4. Cool and store covered in the refrigerator. They can be eaten immediately, but are best after 2-3 days of brining.

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