This weekend's big find...garlic scapes. And when I say "find," I mean it. Despite the fact that we eat lots of garlic in our house, this is the first time we've grown garlic. How is that possible, you may wonder? Well, it's simple. You plant garlic in the fall, mulch it well over the winter, and harvest it in mid-July. Somehow, I never got organized enough to plant in the fall. This year, however, we took a few baby steps by planting our cold frame and some lovely garlic (thanks to my mom for buying the garlic for me last fall and giving me the "hint...hint" get planting nudge).
So how were the scapes a surprise find? I'm a bit embarrassed to admit I didn't quite understand the biology of garlic scapes. For some reason, I thought that scapes were just the green tops (sprouts) of the garlic and that picking them would end the growth of the garlic bulbs. Now I know better! I've purchased scapes from the farmer's market so I knew what they looked like. When I saw the little shoots growing on the plant I could easily recognize them as a flower stem and bud. I quickly grabbed my garden scissors to clip them out. I made the connection to the herbs in my garden- to get the herbs with the best flavor, you prevent them from going to flower. Some quick research later, I learned that a similar situation is true for garlic scapes- if the scapes are allowed to grow and bloom, the garlic bulbs stop growing. Cutting them out actually does double duty- we'll get larger garlic bulbs, plus we get to enjoy the scapes now.
This is all a perfect example of why getting your kids involved in gardening is a good idea. I grew up on a farm and have grown my own vegetables for years. Yet, even I learned something new by going out to check on my garden this weekend. I brought my kids out and showed them, too, so not only did they learn from the experience, but they got to see that I learned something , too.
Our first meal using the scapes was some extra-delicious scrambled eggs. I simply washed and chopped the scapes, sauteed them in a little olive oil, as with garlic cloves, then added the eggs and cooked as usual.
Now is the time to find scapes at your local farmer's market, so keep your eyes open.
Have you ever eaten garlic scapes? What's your favorite recipe or use for them?