Preserving Garlic Scapes: 20+ Clever Ways to Use Your Harvest

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​Whether you’re a long-time scape lover or new to the harvest, you’re in the right place! Learn everything you need to know about preparing and preserving garlic scapes to make the most of this short-lived crop. 

fresh garlic scapes on a wooden cutting board.
Photo Credit: DepositPhotos

I first learned about garlic scapes when I started working at a local farmers market. Before that, it never even crossed my mind that you could grow your own garlic! Once I started working on farms, I started looking forward to this special harvest. l I remember harvesting so many scapes on one farm that my hands smelled like garlic for days.

Now, I truly look forward to garlic scape season every year. They have such a delicious flavor and are one of the crops I’m most excited to see either in my garden or at the market. They’re a sure sign summer is on its way!

garlic scape on a garlic plant.
Photo Credit: DepositPhotos

What are garlic scapes?

When I work at the farmers market during scape season, I see two responses from customers about scapes. They’re either thrilled for scape season and know exactly what they are, or they ask, “What are those things?!” 

These curly green stalks are actually the flower stem and bud of hardneck garlic plants. If you’re growing garlic for the bulbs, you need to remove these flowers to send as much plant energy as possible to the developing bulbs. If the garlic scapes are allowed to flower, the plant’s energy is directed to flowering and growing seeds, which stunts the bulbs.

By removing the garlic flower and its stem, we get a delicious crop we can enjoy right away in early summer while also helping the plant focus on developing big, flavorful garlic cloves. Think of it as doubling the harvest!

Why you’ll love preserving garlic scapes


  • Delicious garlic flavor – With a milder flavor that’s much less pungent than the garlic bulb, scapes are a great way to get that an herby, subtle garlic flavor without too much bite. It’s amazing in compound butters, sauces, and more.
  • Fun seasonal vegetable – This is a very special, short-lived crop that’s only available for a few weeks in the late spring/early summer. They really kick off the start of the summer crops and we often eat them with spring greens, chive blossoms, root vegetables, and other early summer crops.
  • Great way to use the harvest – There’s something extremely satisfying about finding ways to use your harvest and cook creatively in the kitchen. I love finding new ways to use these tender stems in the kitchen and these recipes will help you keep your harvest safe for later.

How to Store Garlic Scapes

Perhaps the easiest way to store scapes for short-term future use is to place them in a plastic bag and store them in the fridge. This method will keep the garlic scapes fresh for a few weeks. Being a unique seasonal vegetable that is only available for a small time period, refrigerator storage is a simple way to use your entire harvest and extend your opportunity to use this fun, seasonal ingredient in creative ways.

jar of pickled scapes and recipes for preserving garlic scapes.
Photo Credit: DepositPhotos

How to Preserve Garlic Scapes: 4 Easy Ways

Since garlic scapes are such a short-season crop, I like to preserve them for long-term storage to use throughout the year using any of the four methods below. These are pretty quick and easy and allow you to add that mild garlic flavor to your favorite recipes and dishes!

Dehydrating

One of the easiest ways to preserve fresh garlic scapes for later is to cut them into small pieces and dehydrate them! This will remove any liquids and allow you to keep them for long-term storage.

After dehydrating, you can also blend them into a garlic scape powder to sprinkle over eggs or other dishes!

Freezing

There are two main ways to freeze garlic scapes. The first is to blanch or roast the scapes, then freeze the cooked scapes in a freezer-safe container or freezer bag for later.

If you typically prefer to add scapes to cooked pasta dishes or just need a bit at a time, place the minced scapes in ice-cube trays, then cover them with a little olive oil and freeze. Once solid, remove the cubes from the trays and store them in a freezer-safe bag or container to use whenever!

Fermenting

Another traditional way to preserve scapes (and many other foods) is to ferment them. This is lactofermentation, very similar to making sauerkraut.

You’re basically culturing the scapes in a salt-water brine. This will allow any good bacteria on the scapes to grow and essentially pickle the scapes while the salt kills any bad bacteria. The end product is naturally probiotic! It’s an excellent way to keep fresh ingredients safe to eat for a long time.

Pickling

If you really want your scapes to have a long shelf life, try canning! Since scapes are low-acid, you’ll want to can them using an approved pickling process.

They have a similar texture to dilly beans or pickled green beans that’s really satisfying. Cover them with a pickling, hot brine then process them in a water bath canner. You’ll be able to enjoy shelf-stable scapes from sealed jars any time of year!

What to Do with Garlic Scapes

Once you’ve stashed away enough scapes through the regular methods, you’ve got to try adding them to different recipes! These are some of my favorite ways to use these special garlic shoots throughout the season.

garlic scape compound butter recipe.

Scape Butter

If you have a food processor, you can make homemade scape butter in no time at all! Plus, there are so many ways to customize the butter to make it your own. I love to add lemon zest, just like my chive blossom butter!

Tip: Scape butter freezes really well, too! 

Roasted Garlic Scapes

Who doesn’t love roasted veggies? Roasting scapes makes them soft and tender while also concentrating that delicious garlic flavor. They’re great on salads, in pasta dishes, or even scrambled with eggs.

You can even use them as a garlic substitute to serve this roasted asparagus from My Chef’s Apron!

Photo Credit: The Art of Natural Living

Scape Pizza

The Art of Natural Living has a fantastic recipe for garlic scape pizza. This is an easy way to use your garlic scape harvest right away.

Garlic Scape Salt

This is technically a type of dehydrating because you blend the scapes and salt together, then dry them all the way out. This will leave you with a seasoning salt that adds a delicate scape flavor any time of the year.

Grilled Scapes

If roasting scapes don’t develop browning enough, try grilling them! Grilling vegetables is an excellent way to develop browning and charring, which leaves that distinct, delicious, smoky flavor we all know and love.

Follow these tips from Homemade and Yummy to make the best grilled scapes this year!

Garlic Scape Dip

Looking for the perfect side dish or appetizer before the big game? We love making sour cream and chive dip, but if it’s scape season, try substituting garlic scapes for green onion and experience a very similar dip that adds a whole new twist.

Photo Credit: Modern Harvest

Pickled Garlic Scapes

Modern Harvest has recipes for both quick pickled dill scapes and a canning recipe to preserve them for later. This is one of my favorite ways to preserve scapes!

Stir Fried Scapes

I love adding seasonal veggies to my stir fries and scapes are a perfect addition! Their mild garlic flavor goes well with salad turnips, snap peas, and other fresh veggies.’

Fermented Scapes

Culture the good bacteria on the scapes in a salt-water brine to make them a naturally probiotic treat! Learn more about fermenting scapes here.

Garlic Scape Soup

If you have a garden of your own and have garlic planted, you might be lucky enough to get a huge harvest of scapes. What do you do when you have a whole fridge drawer full of raw garlic scapes? Make soup, of course!

Scape Vinegar

I love infusing scapes in vinegar! Choose a mild vinegar like unseasoned rice white or white balsamic to let the mild flavor of garlic scapes really shine through. Let them soak for 2-3 weeks, strain out the scapes, and use the vinegar in your salad dressings and any other recipe!

Photo Credit: Urban Farm and Kitchen

Garlic Scape Pesto

This garlic scape walnut pesto from Urban Farm and Kitchen has all the herby, garlicky flavor you love without having to splurge on pricey pine nuts!

Pro Tip: I usually make a double batch, scoop the extra into an ice cube tray, and then pop it in the freezer. Then, whenever I want to add some flavor to fresh pasta or other dishes, I simply pop a cube of pesto out and add it right to the pan.

Garlic Scape Kraut

Kraut is such an easy entry into the world of fermenting, and it’s much cheaper than the live kraut at the store! I usually make this spicy garlic sauerkraut, but you can easily replace the raw garlic with 2-3 scapes. 

This garlic scape sauerkraut with red cabbage from The Wild Gut is a great option too. Check for fresh cabbage at your local farmer’s market!

Scape Hummus

Nothing goes better with hummus than garlic. Though less pungent than the bulbs, garlic scapes contain a very similar taste and melds very well with the chickpeas, sesame oil, and lemon juice in this garlic scape hummus from Joybilee Farm.

Garlic Scape Risotto

This sausage and garlic scape risotto really looks delicious! I can just imagine the fresh pops of garlic with the savory sausage.

Frittata

Celebrate the early spring harvest with peas, scapes, mushrooms, and more in this early summer frittata from the Crumb blog.

Photo Credit: Dish in the Kitchen


Dill Scape Relish

This dill scape relish is a delicious addition to your summertime brats and hot dogs! Get the full recipe from Dish in the Kitchen to make your own.

Bread

Fold scapes into bread dough the next time you’re whipping up a batch of homemade bread. Pro tip: it goes great with a hard salty cheese like parmesan.

This garlic scape sourdough bread would be perfect to serve with some of the other recipes above!

Garlic Bread

Instead of regular garlic, use scapes for the garlic flavor! This garlic scape garlic bread would be perfect for your next spaghetti night. 

Aioli or Mayo

Add scapes to a batch of mayo or aioli for the most amazing garlicky sandwiches ever! This simple garlic scape aioli is a great place to start.

Garlic Scape Pasta

You can either sauté your scapes to add to pasta or actually add the cooked scapes to your homemade pasta! This lemon garlic scape pasta is a simple, light meal perfect for garlic lovers.

FAQs

What is the best thing to do with garlic scapes?

Eat them of course! With a taste I often compare to garlicky green beans or garlicky asparagus, use them similar to how you would green onions or chives. Besides using them fresh, however, you can incorporate them with other ingredients to create scape-infused products or preserve them for later by dehydrating, freezing, pickling, or fermenting them.

Personally, I like to make scape butter or pickled scapes the most.

How do you prepare scapes to eat?

Fresh, tender scapes can easily be sauteed, grilled, pickled, roasted, and much more. The entire scape is edible, although the main part that is eaten is the stem. Just watch out for older, woody scapes, as they will be quite unpleasant to eat. You can check the very end of the scape where it’s been snapped. If it’s dry and has little white spots, it’s probably quite woody.

Fresh scapes have a pale green color at the end. You can also snap off a bit of the stem to see if it’s fresh. If it doesn’t snap neatly, it’s old. Old scapes are not fun to eat!

Can you eat garlic scapes raw?

Yes! Garlic scapes are completely edible raw; they just have a sharp garlic flavor that can be a little overwhelming. This is why they’re typically pickled, processed, or sauteed instead.

Which part of the garlic scape do you eat?

The entire scape is edible, including the flower! However, freshness can be an issue. If the flower is opening at all, the stems are likely becoming firm and woody. The flowers are delicious in vinegar, butter, and dip, but I typically make these towards the end of the season when the stalks firm up.

If you want to make pesto or many of the recipes above, you’ll want very tender stems. Many people remove the pale flower head since it doesn’t have quite the same texture or flavor. 

bunch of fresh garlic scapes ready for preserving.
Really fresh scapes should have shiny, wet ends. This is an example of very fresh scapes perfect for eating.

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