Crop Spot: Michigan Garlic Scapes & Green Garlic

Garlic cloves play an important role in rounding out flavor in so many of the dishes we cook, but did you know there are other ways to enjoy the garlic plant? Garlic scapes and green garlic are both ready to harvest in the spring or early summer and provide fresh, garlicky flavor. 

What are Garlic Scapes 

Garlic scapes in a tray from Homestead Hill in Sutton's Bay
Garlic Scapes at Homestead Hill in Sutton’s Bay

Garlic scapes are the flowering shoots of the garlic plant, harvested before the flowers open. It’s common for farms to harvest scapes as a spring specialty, as well as a way to direct more of the plant’s energy into creating a large bulb. 

This spring speciality offers a mild garlic flavor and a pleasant crisp texture. Keep reading to learn about cooking with garlic scapes. 

What is Green Garlic 

Green garlic at the Sara Hardy Farmers Market

Green garlic is a garlic plant that has been harvested before it has started to form cloves. It resembles green onions or scallions, but with a slightly larger white bulb and tougher green stalks. 

Green garlic offers much of the flavor of a garlic clove, but with a slightly milder flavor. You can eat the bulb as well as the lower part of the greens that are still tender. 

Growing Garlic at Home 

When and How to Harvest Green Garlic 

If you’re growing softneck garlic in your garden, green garlic can be a fun and exciting harvest early in the season. When the stalks are about the thickness of a pencil and look like a green onion, it’s time to harvest the green garlic. You can continue harvesting it until the cloves start to form. To harvest, simply pull the green garlic from the ground and wash. 

When and How to Harvest Garlic Scapes / Garlic Scape Harvesting 

Garlic scapes will begin to appear on hardneck varieties of garlic in the early summer. Wait until they have grown their classic curl and harvest before the buds begin to open. Cut the scape from the plant using a knife or shears. Garlic scapes store well in the fridge for a few weeks and can also be frozen. 

Cooking with Green Garlic 

Green garlic can be used in the same ways as you would use a clove of garlic, though you may want to limit the cooking time to preserve the fresh flavor. Prep green garlic by washing it thoroughly and removing the roots. Slice the bulb as well as any of the green stalk that is still tender. 

Pickled Green Garlic 

Green garlic makes for a flavorful pickle that adds a burst of flavor to your dish. Try this recipe for fermented hot green garlic from Bon Appetit. If spice isn’t your thing, decrease the quantity or omit the red pepper flakes. 

Cooking with Garlic Scapes 

Garlic scapes can be eaten raw or cooked and add a beautiful pop of flavor to any dish. Some of my favorite ways to enjoy them are in stir frys, tossed in oil and salt and grilled, or cut into small rounds and added to a salad, pasta salad, or slaw. 

Garlic Scape Compound Butter 

Compound butters are a classic French condiment that bring depth of flavor to simple dishes. 

  • 4oz garlic scapes 
  • 4oz salted butter, softened 
  • ½ tsp lemon juice 
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath (a bowl of water with plenty of ice). Blanch garlic scapes in the boiling water for 1-2 minutes, until tender. Place scapes into an ice bath to cool quickly. 
  2. Dry scapes and mince finely. 
  3. In a bowl, combine scapes, butter, and lemon juice. Mash the ingredients together until they are evenly combined. 
  4. Place mixture on a piece of plastic wrap and form into a log, twisting the plastic wrap to seal the ends. 
  5. Chill for at least 30 minutes before using. 

Garlic Scape Powder 

If you have more garlic scapes than you know what to do with, making garlic scape powder is a great way to preserve them for use year round. It can be used in the same way as garlic powder, but adds a more vegetal flavor to your food. 

To make, cut scapes into small pieces and dry fully in a dehydrator. Place dried scapes into a food processor or blender and process until they form a fine powder. Store in an air-tight container. 

Interested in garlic scape powder, but don’t want to make your own? Our partners Norman’s Gourmet Garlic and Hillside Harvest Farm both make and sell it! 

Find Michigan Garlic Scapes and Green Garlic 

Ready to explore eating green garlic and garlic scapes? Most farms that grow garlic also sell the scapes during their harvest window, and many will harvest green garlic as well. Explore farms that grow garlic in our online directory to find a farm near you.

Christina Marbury is the Marketing Director for Taste the Local Difference. Reach her at [email protected].

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