Discover more from Love Off Grid
The Great Scape
Appreciating the Seasonal Garlic Flower
Last fall, we planted 45 garlic seeds. In November, the snow started to fall, covering our garlic in a deep, snug layer of winter hibernation.
Or so we thought….
Unbeknownst to us, all winter long under that deep layer of snow, moles were having a garlic party, devouring all but 15 of our garlic seeds. The remnant they left us looks okay, but we have yet to dig them up. We’re hoping the harvest is at least enough to make some decent garlic bread.
Meanwhile, there’s a good indication that our 15 remaining cloves are still under there, growing… the scapes have emerged!
What’s a scape?
Garlic scapes are thin stalks that emerge as part of the garlic plant amongst the leaves. They’re easy to identify because they curl and produce a flower bud. Recently, as people have discovered how tasty scapes are, they have become a kind of delicacy at the Farmer’s Market.
If you haven’t had a scape, they taste like mild garlic. They can be eaten raw or cooked. I used mine to make pesto, which I’ll describe in a bit.
The best scapes are harvested early, before the scape curls twice. If they’re left too long, the stalks can become woody and tough. If they’re left alone entirely, the flower will eventually open - which is beautiful, but takes energy away from the garlic bulb.
Some reports claim that harvesting the scape will increase the garlic bulb’s size by 20-30%. I don’t know about that yet…I’m still just trying to get bulbs of any size before the moles eat them.
Last week, just tickled to see that my 15 remaining bulbs were still alive and kicking, I harvested their scapes and used a few to make basil pesto.
By the time I got to them, some had curled twice but they still seemed okay for my purposes.
Usually, I make pesto with varying amounts of basil, olive oil, lemon juice, walnuts, salt, parmesan and garlic. This time, I just replaced the garlic with chopped scapes.
Pesto, I think, is like making soup or sauces… once you learn the basics, you just play around with amounts and percentages to suit your own tastes. Here are some basic instructions…
Harvest and pull the leaves off your basil. Keep it dry. Put a cup or so of dry basil leaves in a food processor with about 1/4 cup nuts, 1/2 cup parmesan, and some salt and pepper. Add one or two chopped scape stems. The amount of scapes, as with garlic, depends on how much you like garlic flavor.
Pulse it until it’s finely chopped (about 3 or 4 short pulses). Add a squeeze of lemon juice and pulse once more.
Finally, stream about 2 tbsps of olive oil into the final pulse to join everything together into a beautiful, tasty pesto. Simple.
As you might guess from my basket of basil, I made several batches of pesto. I like to preserve it by vacuum sealing small bags and freezing them. The pulse feature on my vacuum sealer works great for removing air gently, then, once sealed, I flatten the pouches so they store more efficiently. The frozen pouches store well into winter.
John and I usually eat pretty small meals, relative to what most restaurants serve nowadays, so I make several small pouches that I can use for individual dishes. Pesto is perfect in cream sauce or to top a steak, chicken or even poached eggs… there are endless uses for pesto. The brief season of the scapes just makes it extra special.