Garlic scapes, also sometimes called garlic stems, stalks, shoots or spears, are the flower stalks that garlic plants produce before the bulbs mature. The garlic scape is edible and has a lovely, mild garlic flavor with a hint of sweetness. Throw chopped garlic scapes in pastas or soups, on pizza, in tacos, and more. The season is short, so grab them while you can!

Here are a couple of brilliant but simple ways you can use them – plus how to freeze them for future use:

Garlic Scape Vinegar

recipe by Catie Schwalb at Pitchfork Diaries

This vinegar can be used in simple vinaigrettes to dress greens and cucumbers, added to marinade for grilling meat or seafood, splashed on chard/collards/kale to saute, or for dunking crusty grilled bread. You can add a few sprigs of basil, dill, thyme, or even a dried chili pepper to the bottle for your own personal taste.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 whole garlic scapes, about 12″ in length
  • 1 cup light flavored vinegar, like white wine or rice vinegar
  • glass container
  • non-metal cap or cover

Note:  The ratio is 1-2 scapes per cup of vinegar, but you can add more to make the flavor more concentrated.  And double or triple the recipe based on the size of container you are using.

Directions:

  1. Sterilize the bottle and cap, either by simmering in hot water on the stove for 10 minutes or washing in the dishwasher right before using.  Allow container and cap to dry thoroughly.
  2. Wash garlic scapes and dry completely.  Cut into lengths that will allow the scape to be completely submerged below the level of the vinegar.  Any exposed piece of scape not in the vinegar will start to deteriorate and rot.
  3. Gently bruise the scapes, by rolling over slightly with a rolling pin, to release a bit more flavor.
  4. Place the scape pieces in the sterilized container and cover completely with vinegar.  Seal with lid, cap or cork.
  5. Store in the refrigerator, or other cool, dark place.  The following day, check the level of the vinegar and add more if the level has dropped at all.  It is possible that the scapes will absorb some overnight.
  6. Allow to infuse for 10 days to 2 weeks.  Strain out original garlic scape pieces, if desired, and replace with fresh ones (if available), primarily for decoration.  Will keep for 2-4 months.

Basic, Bang Up Blue Cheese Dressing (with Garlic Scapes)

recipe by Tara O’Brady at Food52

Dress a garden salads, greens, or green vegetables with this creamy tangy dressing; or use it as a dip for raw veggies and crusty bread, or a topping for grilled meats.

Ingredients:

  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream or thick plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk, shaken well
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon runny honey
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic scapes*
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 dash hot sauce, dried red pepper flakes, or chili oil, to serve (optional)

Directions:

  1. If you like a smooth dressing, grab a medium bowl and mash the blue cheese into the mayonnaise with the back of a fork. If a chunky dressing is preferred, keep the blue cheese aside and proceed to step 2.
  2. Mix the mayonnaise with the sour cream, most of the buttermilk, and all of the vinegar and honey.
  3. Add the garlic scapes to the bowl, along with the blue cheese, if making the chunkier style. Fold to combine, and season with pepper. Taste for seasoning, adding more buttermilk, vinegar, honey and pepper, as necessary. Makes 1 ½ cups of dressing.
  4. You can use the dressing right away but it’s even nicer after a day in the fridge, which gives the flavors a chance to round out. The dressing will thicken as it sits, but can be thinned with a few drops of water. Serve with a dash of hot sauce. Keep any leftover dressing in an airtight container in the fridge, and use up in a few days.

*You can also use chives or scallions in place of garlic scapes when they are no longer available.

Freezing Garlic Scapes

Chop garlic scapes into 1-inch pieces and freeze in sustainable bags or containers. This makes it easy to grab a handful of garlic scapes and add them to soups, stews, stir fry, or anywhere else that you would use garlic. The garlic scapes hold up really well to freezing and remain firm.