A Guide to Harvesting & Cooking Garlic Scapes, One of the Most Intriguing Vegetables

2 min

A Guide to Harvesting & Cooking Garlic Scapes, One of the Most Intriguing Vegetables

The slender shoot that emerges from hardneck garlic and curls upward into a point is known as a scape.

The scapes, if allowed to mature, will bear a flower and subsequent seeds. The greatest way to make use of garlic scapes is through cooking, as garlic is cultivated from planting cloves rather than seeds.

Harvesting Garlic Scapes

If the scapes are cut off, the plant will stop producing blooms and put its resources towards making bulbs instead.

While waiting for the bulbs to mature, you can enjoy the fresh garlic flavor of the scapes that emerge from the plants about a month before harvest.

Scapes can be harvested by snipping them off at their base

If they break instead of bending, they need another day or two to mature. When a scape has one complete curlicue, it’s ready to be picked.


Cooking Garlic Scapes

Scapes from the garlic plant can be substituted for garlic in any dish.

To make a quick and flavorful side dish or appetizer, just chop garlic scapes into half- to one-inch pieces and sauté them in olive oil over medium heat.

One or two scapes can replace one bulb in cooking.

Garlic scape pesto is my go-to method of utilizing garlic scapes. The pesto is versatile and can be frozen for later use. Garlic scapes can be sautéed in place of bulbs. Instead of one garlic bulb, I use around 1 tablespoon.


Recipe for Pesto with Garlic Scapes

Have an overwhelming amount of scapes? Making garlic scape pesto is simple, and you can store it in the freezer for later use in dishes that call for garlic but you don’t have bulbs for.

The pesto can be as basic or elaborate as you wish. Garlic scapes, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt are all you need. If you want a more classic pesto, try mixing in some pine nuts and parmesan cheese.


  • 3/4 cup garlic scapes, roughly chopped (alternatively, you might use half scapes and half herbs) Both basil and parsley can be used here.
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice and peel 1/2 lemon (or bottled lemon juice to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt


  • 1/4 cup Almonds or pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated


  1. If using nuts, toast them for a few minutes over low heat, tossing or turning occasionally, until they just start to brown. Take it away from the stove and let it aside to cool for a while.
  2. Put everything but the cheese into a food processor with a blade attachment. Run the processor, stopping to scrape the sides if necessary, until the ingredients are thoroughly blended and the mixture may be spread or scooped (whatever you like). Pesto made with garlic scapes won’t be as silky as traditional pesto.
  3. If you want to freeze your garlic scape pesto, put it in containers that can go in the freezer and write the date and the ingredients on them. If you aren’t going to freeze the pesto, add the cheese now; if you are, add it after defrosting.
  4. Add a hint of garlic to sauces, quiche, eggs, and pasta with your own pesto made from garlic scapes.

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