What In The World Is A Garlic Scape And How Do I Use It?

You’ve heard of garlic. You’ve used it. You love it!

But when you add the word “scape” at the end of garlic, you’re confused.

What the heck is a garlic scape?

I totally understand. Garlic scapes are not something I’d ever heard of until I got into farming.

They look like this:



And they are the flowering tops of hard neck garlic plants before they’re ready to harvest. They grow out of the top of the garlic plant and curl over in their own unique cute way, full of the same beautiful blue-green characteristic to all plants in the allium (onion) family.

We snap them off so that the plant can give more energy to producing a nice big bulb of garlic to harvest in early August.  If you're a home gardener growing hard neck garlic, you can do the same thing, too!  Just look for when they start to curl over and then snap them off with as much "scape" as possible.

Plus, they’re a special seasonal taste of our garlic crop that comes early! Yay!

So let’s get started!


Garlic scape basics

Garlic scapes are long, skinny, curly, green, and taste like garlic. Yum!

Garlic scapes can be used just like garlic, in most cases. Double Yum!

And our CSA members love garlic scapes.  Many often ask how they can buy more than is in the CSA share!

The only word of caution I have in using garlic scapes is that they are kind of “tough” if you don’t mince them up fine or use a food processor. Big chunks will be crunchy in texture, more than garlic itself.

To prepare your garlic scapes:

Look at your garlic scapes.  Most of the scape is perfectly round in cross-section, but at one end there is a tapering tail.  This tail is more tough and fibrous and is best discarded.  Now wash and chop as desired for your recipe.

To store your garlic scapes:

Garlic scapes keep really well in the fridge. Just make sure the moisture is maintained on them to keep them from getting floppy from dehydration. I usually store them in a plastic bag to accomplish this. They should keep for weeks in your fridge when stored properly.


4 great ways to use garlic scapes 

#1 in Stir-fries

Use as you would garlic in stir fries, chopped finely and added in towards the end.


#2 in Soups

Use as you would garlic in soups! Yum!


#3 in Salad dressings

Use as you would garlic in salad dressings, making sure to finely mince up your garlic scapes and emulsify well.


#4 in a feature recipe!

Garlic Scape Pesto

Makes about 1 cup of pesto

  • 3/4 to 1 cup roughly chopped garlic scapes (about 1/4 lb of scapes)
  • 1/4 cup nuts of choice, traditional is pine nuts, but I often use walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (possibly more or less depending on taste)
  • Optional: 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Combine the prepared scapes, nuts, salt and pepper in a food processor. Process until all is finely chopped. Slowly add the olive oil while the food processor is running. Check to see how you like the consistency before adding all of it. Add oil until you are happy with consistency. Add cheese (if using). Store in the fridge for about 1 week.

Or freeze! Garlic scape pesto freezes beautifully in ice cube trays. If you plan on freezing the pesto, leave out the cheese. You can add cheese after you have thawed the pesto cubes.

Here are some great ideas for using your garlic scape pesto:

  • Pasta
  • Spread it on bread or crackers
  • Pizza
  • In a soup, like tomato soup
  • With chicken
  • Or fish


Have you ever had garlic scapes before? What is your favorite way to use them? Please make a reply, as I’m always looking for ideas! Thank you!

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Comments (2)

I use them sauteed in butter as a side. This year I chopped in food processor with some oil and packed in small quart bands in the freezer for later use as I had so many!!

I freeze the pesto as you've described above, in ice cube trays. I sometimes mix garlic scape pesto with basil pesto (also frozen in ice cube trays) and use on fish or pasta, etc. It enhances the pesto with some garlic flavor as well! I also saute finely chopped scapes, then add a veggie (kale, chard, broccoli)and saute, then cover for a few minutes til the veggie is bright green. Then I add a couple beaten eggs. yummy lunch!