Monday, April 26, 2010

Garlic Scapes are Yummy

I'd heard of garlic scapes before, but never had the pleasure of tasting them until now since I've never (successfully) grown garlic before.

As you can see, my elephant garlic has put up scapes. They're some sort of flower head type thing that hardneck garlic and elephant garlic grow towards the end of their life cycles. None of my hardnecks have put up scapes, at least not yet, which may be because hardnecks don't like warm climates. The elephant garlic, on the other and, has put up some nice big ones.

From what I've read about growing garlic, it is generally advised that you cut them off so that the garlic plant doesn't waste energy on making a flower head instead of making a bulb. The bonus is that garlic scapes are yummy.

I wasn't sure how big I was supposed to let them get before I cut them off, so they ended up being about a foot long. Looking up recipes, it looks like you can make pesto out of them, grill them, or what I thought sounded the best, stir-fry them, so that's what I did.

Turns out they have the texture of green beans with the flavor of garlic. Good because I like both of those. Mine might have been left on the plant too long because they were a bit fibrous and strong tasting (I had garlic breath for a while afterwards), but they were still good, and it was neat to get the chance to try a new vegetable.

If the hardnecks never end up putting up any scapes in this climate, I might just plant extra elephant garlic next year to make sure I get a good supply.

As for harvesting any of the bulbs, the leaves of the garlic are just starting to die. They're supposed to be half to three-quarters dead before they're ready to harvest. Some of the Chet's Italian Red plants look like they're about half dead, so I'm planning on digging one up next time I need some garlic to see how it looks. Worst case, if it's not ready yet and still too "juicy", I'll just have to use up that bulb quickly and give the others a little more time. The other varieties are not as far along as Chet's as far as leaf dying goes. Chet's also has some of the biggest tops of any of the other varieties. I'm surprised how much the tops of the garlic varieties vary in size and number of leaves. If big tops translate to big bulbs, than Chet's is probably going to end up being one of the best garlic varieties for me.

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