Fun and Flavorful Garlic Scapes Recipes

How to Cook Garlic Scapes Straight From the Garden

Fun and Flavorful Garlic Scapes Recipes

The first in my list of favorite garlic scapes recipes was pretty simple: cutting them up on homemade pizza made with cheese from my local organic dairy farm. This year, my collection of recipes expanded quickly when my husband brought home bags of fresh garlic scapes from his garden at work and we had to figure out what to do with all of them! Fortunately, with a little creativity and using what we knew about cooking and preserving food, we came up with a whole list of fun ideas for garlic scapes recipes, including ways to preserve them so that we can use them all winter long.

Garlic scapes are the long, green flowering tops of garlic that have been planted in the ground. This year, my husband decided on growing garlic instead of onions in the small garden he has at work. But when the scapes started to come up, he forgot that he had planted garlic. Thinking that he was actually growing chives, you can imagine that he was pretty surprised when he pulled up the first handful of what he thought were green onions and instead discovered that we needed to come up with some new recipes instead of our usual recipes for cooking green onions.

If you see something growing in your garden that resembles a green onion top, take a look at it closely. The two plants look very similar but have a couple of major differences. You can tell the difference between green onion tops and garlic scapes by looking at the color of the green top: they have a slightly purplish tint down near the white fruit at the bottom. The shape is another indicator of what you’re growing – green onion stems are round and straight at the top. But garlic scapes have a beautiful, soft curl to them that makes them resemble Celtic knots.

Don’t have any garlic scapes handy? No worries. You can substitute green onions in most of these recipes.

Because there was no way we would be able to use up every bag of garlic scapes before they went bad, we decided to first focus our attention on preserving them. You can pickle scapes by canning them.

Canning Garlic Scapes (makes three quarts)

  • 1 lb garlic scapes, cleaned and trimmed
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 5 cups water
  • ¼ cup canning salt
  • Fresh rosemary to taste (if desired)

Mix together vinegar, water, and salt. Bring to a boil in a separate pot. Pack hot, clean jars with whole scapes and add rosemary and other herbs as desired. Fill each jar with the hot vinegar solution, and then close with lids. Place jars in a hot water canner and boil for 45 minutes. Place on a heat-resistant surface to cool. Allow scapes to sit for at least two weeks to develop the best flavor.

Fermenting Scapes (makes about one quart)


With my husband’s newfound love of fermenting vegetables, we’ve been experimenting with fermenting garlic scapes. While fermented foods don’t last as long as canned or frozen foods, fermenting the scapes gives them an extra tang that goes well in soups and sauces as well as eaten straight out of the crock. These fermented scapes will last in the fridge for about a year, but I’m sure they’ll be long gone before then.

  • 1 lb garlic scapes, cleaned and trimmed to fit into a 1-quart jar
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 fresh grape leaf (optional, adds crunch)
  • 2-3 cups of brine (3/4 cup sea salt in 1 gallon of unchlorinated water)

Crush the garlic and put into the jar, along with peppercorns and bay leaf. Pack trimmed garlic scapes into the jar, leaving enough room to cover with brine. Cover the scapes with brine, and then pack the grape leaf on top of the scapes. Cover loosely with a lid, and cover with a towel. Leave the container in a dark, cool place for five to eight days. Check the brine level at the top and add new brine as needed, removing any scum that might appear. The scapes will be ready to eat when they are a dull green and the brine is cloudy. At this point, you can put the scapes in the fridge, topping off with new brine if required.

Freezing Garlic Scapes

Freezing garlic scapes is probably the easiest, no-mess way to preserve them. After you’ve cleaned the scapes, trim and discard the woody ends. Chop the green parts finely, pack into a gallon-size freezer bag, and store in the freezer for up to one year. You can add frozen scapes to soups and sauces straight from the freezer or thaw them to make scape pesto.

Garlic Scape Pesto

This is one of my favorite ways to use garlic scapes. You can use it as a dip for bread and crackers, or mix a generous spoonful into angel hair pasta for a quick weeknight dinner. It also freezes well.

  • 1 cup garlic scapes, cut into 4-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste

In a food processor, buzz scapes and garlic together, adding olive oil until it forms a thick paste. Add parmesan cheese to combine, and check for taste, adding salt and black pepper as desired. Pack into freezer-friendly containers and store.

Garlic Infused Oil

Garlic scapes also work in your favorite garlic oil recipe. Take two clean garlic scapes, and cut them into two-inch pieces. Lightly crush them with a rolling pin or your fingers to release the juices. Meanwhile, warm ½ cup of olive oil in a saucepan on the stove. When the oil is warm, add the scapes and remove from heat. Let the oil sit for at least 15 minutes, and use right away as a dipping sauce or for cooking vegetables and meat.

The next time you think about growing garlic in your garden, don’t forget about the ways that you can enjoy the first fruits of your labor with these flavorful and fun garlic scapes recipes. Do you have a favorite recipe for scapes? Leave a comment here and share it with us.

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