Why You Should Act Fast When You Spot Garlic Scapes At The Market

Garlic scapes are a rare gem. These bright green stalks, which curl in on themselves and end in a small bulge of a bud, shoot out from the tops of garlic bulbs. They are usually cut short and thrown away to preserve the energy of the garlic plant. However, apart from just using the clove of the vegetable, garlic aficionados have developed a sweet spot for this unassuming allium.

Garlic scapes have a sharp and pungent flavor when raw and are mild and nutty when cooked, and their texture is similar to that of asparagus. Garlic scapes can be used in any dish that would otherwise call for garlic or in place of other punchy vegetables like chives, ramps, or scallions. They are delicious sautéed in oil, ground into pesto, pickled, or roasted with meat and veggies.

But aside from the fact that they are often discarded instead of sold, there's a reason you probably haven't seen them at your local grocery store.

Garlic scapes are in-store for only a few weeks

The great tragedy of the garlic scape is that it has such a short season. They are only available for a few weeks in late spring and early summer, peaking in June. You'll mostly find them at farmers' markets or specialty food stores, but their growing popularity means that you'll need to take advantage of the opportunity when you see them. Buying in bulk can help you out here, even if you don't think you'll be able to use them all at once.

There are a few options when it comes to correctly storing scapes. They will keep for a few days on the counter in a glass of water or for up to three weeks in the refrigerator, particularly if they are trimmed correctly. They will also last for up to a year in the freezer if blanched beforehand.

It's also possible to grow your own garlic scapes if you can't find them in your area. In fact, you've probably done it before by accident. Have you ever left a head of garlic in the pantry for too long and found green sprouts coming out the top of the cloves? Those are scapes. If you want to do it on purpose, just plant some heads of garlic from the grocery store or farmers' market and wait until spring to reap your reward.