Garlic is a fantastic crop to grow. Its one of our kitchen staples and you’d be surprised at just how many different varieties there are out there available for you to grow at home.
You don’t need a huge amount of space, you can quite easily grow garlic in pots, so if you have the opportunity to grow your own, you wont be disappointed… especially when you learn of a little culinary treat reserved especially for you… the garlic grower
These are simply the stalk and flower head that hardneck garlic produces.
There are 2 types of garlic to grow:
Soft neck and Hard neck
The soft neck types generally produce smaller bulbs, store well and are ready to harvest when the growing stalk goes “soft” just above the bulb and flops over. Soft neck types dont usually produce flower stalks or scapes
Hard neck types are well suited to colder climates, they usually have a stronger flavour, they produce fewer but larger cloves than soft neck types, and around mid-June, they will throw up a long flower stalk (the scape)
Here at our allotment we are growing both types of garlic and on visiting the plot today I’ve noticed that we have scapes from the hardneck garlic.
If you were to leave the scapes to continue to grow, the bulb would divert all of its energy into producing the flower, the flower head would open up, and the bees would get a lovely garlic flower treat!
But for us gardeners, we need the plant to put all of its energy into producing big plump juicey cloves… so to do that, we simply remove the scape.
Removing the scape is super easy – all you do is follow the stalk down to where its popping out of the plant and… SNIP!
I usually find that if I’ve got one scape, I’ve got more so take some time to check over your other garlic plants and see how many you can find.
There is another reason to remove garlic scapes
Theyre edible, totally delicious and I dont know about you but I’ve never seen them available to buy here in the shops.
Due to their short harvesting window, I think these are a special treat, just for us gardeners
Theres loads of great ways you can use scapes in the kitchen. They have a lovely fresh, mild garlic taste similar to spring onions, and can be added to salads, soups, stirfrys, you can even pickle them! To prepare the scape, just remove the flower head and any hard or firm part of the stalk which may be a little tough to eat, then you’re good to go.
One of my favourite ways to use garlic scapes is in a pesto. Its fresh, quick and you can adjust the recipe to suit.
Heres the one I use:
200g Garlic scapes (flower heads removed) cut into 2 cm pieces
1 whole lemon, halved
Approx 100ml extra virgin olive oil
Approx 50g parmesan cheese
Handful of nuts (pine nuts, walnuts, hazel nuts – whatever I have in the cupboard)
Freshly ground plack pepper
Put all the dry ingredients into a food processor – add half of the oil and blitz, gradually adding in the rest of the oil until its of a smooth consistancy.
Squeeze in a little of the lemon juice and grind in some black pepper, stir through, taste and adjust the seasoning adding in more lemon juice/pepper/oil to suit your taste and to get the consistancy that you like.
No nuts.. no problem – this recipe works great without nuts too!
You can use the pesto on pasta, as a topping for bruchetta or any other way you can think of!
Garlic scapes are a great treat for the garlic grower so next time you see these curly flower stalks popping out of your garlic get snipping and enjoy your pre-harvesting reward