garlic scapes

I've been growing garlic for a few years now, and I find if you plant it early enough it's pretty easy to get a good crop. Last year I grew the variety "Music" and it kept me in garlic for most of the year, with loads to give away as well. It's what's known as a hardneck variety or sometimes called porcelain garlic; it's said to be the best flavour, but not the best keeper.
I harvested it in August I think, last year and it lasted well into the new year, but then it gets that little green shoot in the middle that you have to poke out with your knife because it tastes a bit bitter. I find most garlic from the shops goes like that though, so it's not so much of a hardship to do, especially when it means your garlic supply is free. And this year it's doubly free because I kept about a dozen or so heads for replanting this year. I put them in last Autumn, in late September and they are looking good so far.
One interesting thing about hardneck garlic is that it produces what are known as "scapes" - a peculiar looking curly shoot which is really the flowering shoot and must be removed to allow the plant to concentrate it's energies into the bulb and not into flowering. If you grow onions, you might be forgiven for thinking that your garlic had "bolted" but this is the normal growth habit for this plant and the scapes can be used for a number of gourmet treats. They can be steamed and served with melted butter like asparagus, but the best way to enjoy their fresh flavour is to make them into a pesto. Just chop the scapes into pieces and throw into the food processor with some olive oil, parmesan cheese and pine nuts. You can adjust quantiities to your taste. The pesto keeps in a jar in the fridge for ages and is delicious with pasta as well as spread on bruschetta with a glass of wine before dinner and also perks up plain grilled chicken or chops.
Oh and they're also good added to a stiry fry. If you want to try garlic scapes you'll probably have to grow your own as I've never seen them in the shops, or maybe find a garlic growing friend - I always have more than I can use.


  1. Dear Kathy,

    I am contacting you from Outline Productions in relation to the second series of The Great British Food Revival for BBC2.

    One of the episodes will focus on garlic and we are interested in talking to someone who grows their own garlic. Finding out which varieties they grow, where the seeds are from, how well it does etc.

    Please contact me at



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