Garlic Scapes

Garlic Scapes

If you grow hard neck garlic you also get a bonus harvest of scapes.

Since garlic reproduces asexually, it has no flower and no true seed pod. It does however have something similar to a seed pod called a scape. The scape does not contain true seeds, but rather bulbils. These can be planted and will produce more garlic plants, but they will be small. It takes several generations of replanting to get plants of the same size as the original, and for this reason most garlic growers prefer to grow garlic from the cloves rather than the bulbils.

If left to mature on the plant, the scapes will consume a lot of the plant’s resources, and result in smaller garlic bulbs, so for this reason are best harvested from the plant shortly after they appear.

Garlic scapes are delicious. They do have a distinctive garlicky taste, but they are not very strong. They have a texture like, and are cooked similar to, green beans. You can eat the whole stalk together with the scape, so be sure to harvest it as close to the plant as possible so you don’t miss any. They can be fried or steamed, and eaten by themselves. When cooked in something like a stirfry, they give the whole dish a wonderful garlicky taste. They are best not eaten raw, because the flavor is too strong.

22 thoughts on “Garlic Scapes”

  1. Yes, I forgot to mention the cats. It must be the long pointy ends, or maybe the smell, but our cats love them too.

  2. I never knew that you could eat that part of the garlic, I’ve been throwing that part away for a couple of years now. Thanks for your info, really nice to know that this part of the garlic is edible. I grow catnip for my cat and that is his plant, and he knows it, he leaves my garden alone.
    I live in town and we have this groundhog that won’t leave. Very stubborn creature, was munching on lettice while I was standing two feet from him, not shy at all. He will eventually come and munch on my garden so I want to get rid of him. Any groundhog tips?

  3. Hi Lisa,

    I have moles in my garden that eat my Garlic. I don’t know what to do about them, but at least they don’t eat all my garlic. I just plant a bit extra for them…

    I’ve never seen a groundhog before, and I have no idea what you can do about them. If you figure something out, let us know!

  4. Ah, so they’re called snapes! I grew stiff-necked garlic for the first time this year, and wondered what they were. Delighted to learn we can eat them too – thank you.

  5. I just harvested my garlic, had to let them cure for a month. We surely don’t wish you to experience ground-hogs, they are about 100 times the size of moles.

  6. You can also pickle the scapes or put them in vinegars!! Long live Garlic!!

  7. I let my garlic scapes “go to seed” and I now have many little “bulbils” as mentioned above. These look, smell and taste like small round garlic cloves. Can these be eaten? I don’t intend on planting them, and I’d hate for them to go to waste.

  8. Hi Jodie,

    Yes they can be eaten. I have not tried them myself, but they probably taste a lot like tiny cloves of garlic.

    Every part of the garlic plant is edible, as are most alliums (onions, garlic and related). It all only comes down to if it tastes nice. I have heard of people eating garlic bulbils, so I think some people find them nice.

  9. Last year I harvested enough small bulbs, planted from a store-bought garlic bulb to last until the end of March 2011. In spite of size, they were nice and firm and great tasting. This year ventured into the hard neck, and have just harvested about 35 scapes. Plants look great so I’m anxious to see the heads when they are dug up. About woodchucks – try doing some raised beds (4×8), wood sides with chicken wire all around. That deters but doesn’t get rid of moles, voles, but it does keep rabbits out also. Good luck

  10. Thanks for visiting and leaving the comment Eileen. Good luck with your garlic this year, as well as woodchucks, moles, voles and whatever else you have going on in your garden!

  11. Does anyone here dehydrate them? My mom dehydrates everything including scapes :) and she puts them ins everything

  12. Hi Katelyn,

    Thanks for the comment and for visiting! I didn’t have much luck when I dried them. It was a few years ago, but what I remember was their skin kept them from drying easily, but they also didn’t rehydrate into anything nice tasting. The taste was too strong, and not fresh anymore.

    It works reasonably well to make and freeze pesto from them, but otherwise I’ve never found a good way to preserve them.

    Does your mom have any secrets to share?

  13. I want to experiment with planting the small seeds from the top end of the scape. Does anyone have advice on when and how to do this?

    thank you bob.

  14. Hi Bob,

    Most years I plant at least a few garlic scape bulbils. It works fine, but they generally need to be regrown for a few successive years before producing full sized bulbs. It can be as few as 2 years, and as many as 10 or more, before you get full sized bulbs. The smaller the bulbil, the longer it takes. They are just planted the same as normal garlic cloves, but the resulting plant is smaller and more fragile, so usually needs some extra care when growing.

    Different garlic types have different sized bulbils. For example porcelains usually have lots and lots of very tiny bulbils, but purple stripes usually have a smaller number of larger bulbils. I usually have the best luck with purple stripes.

    Normally the first year a bulbil will give you a ’round’ (a small single clove garlic bulb), and each year thereafter a progressively larger bulb.

    Garlic farmers sometimes use bulbils as a way of multiplying garlic quickly. For example, if you start with one bulb and replant all of the cloves each year, even after 5 or more years you won’t really have commercial quantities. You’ll probably end up with 100 or so bulbs. If you plant bulbils, you can end up with thousands of full sized bulbs after 5 or so years.

    Good luck!

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