Monday, July 7, 2014

Farm Fresh Eating - Garlic Scapes

Hi everyone!

This post was supposed to make it onto the blog last week at this time, along with a brief explanation of what ever happened to The Egg Diaries. 

Well.. what with the weather affecting our internet ( it rains 8 counties over and our internet goes down!  Someone explain this to me please! ) and then having to work outside after the rain to make up for all the rainy hours spent inside, with no internet, I have decided that it is too stressful to try to schedule something that should recur on a regular basis.  I will still be writing Egg Diaries, but they will be posted as I can instead of every Monday.  This way when Mother Nature strikes and I can't get online, I won't be stressing about it.

Anyway, while it was raining last Monday, I was using up the last of our garlic scapes.

Garlic Scapes?

If you have never heard of them you are not alone, although they are being seen more and more often at June Farmers' Markets 

I always knew I wanted to grow garlic.  We use so much of it.  I had romantic visions of garlic braids hanging in the kitchen, the garlic waiting to be used.

Reality check.  I couldn't grow soft neck garlic here, no matter how hard I tried.  All my attempts failed.  There would be no garlic braiding for me.  I'm stubborn.  I wanted garlic in my garden.  I was determined to grow it.  I researched and found out that soft neck garlic, the kind that can be braided and the most common kind of garlic sold in stores, because it stores and travels well, likes milder climates.  I would have to grow the hard neck varieties, which can handle the cold weather we get here in Illinois.

Okay.  No braiding but at least I'd have garlic.  Fast forward to this June and this scene.

Garlic Scapes Photo by Tori Beveridge
Garlic Scapes make a stunning display in the garden.

Not only did the hard neck garlic grow, it was beautiful!  The artist in me simply adores the curly scapes (the strong central stalk) that grew.  They were gorgeous!  And guess what?  Soft neck garlic does not grow these scapes!  I may not have braids but I will have these works of art to look forward to every June.

They are not only beautiful, but they are also edible!  Their flavor is milder and greener than the bulb garlic still growing in the soil.  Think of chives or young onion greens compared to cooking onions.

Garlic Scape Bouquet Photo by Tori Beveridge
Wouldn't a few bunches of these look gorgeous as center pieces on your table?

Seriously?!  I don't get one harvest from my garlic, but two!  Not being able to grow soft neck garlic here has turned out to be a blessing.  I couldn't be more thrilled with my hard neck garlic and their curly garlic scapes.

Cutting the scapes also makes good gardening sense.  By cutting the scapes, it allows the energy of the plant to go into growing the bulb, rather than growing the scape.  All of mine were cut over a few days time.  I had bunches and bunches of them.  I still have some!

The uses for scapes are as endless as the uses for garlic and they can be used in any recipe that calls for garlic.  You can also enjoy them raw, minced into salads, because of their mild flavor.

Garlic Scapes Simmering Photo by Tori Beveridge
Garlic Scapes simmering in "Garlic" Chinese Pork .

The lower stalks are quite rigid and hard (hard neck, remember), so cut them off and use the tender top curly ques.  I like to save and use a few of the stalks, cut into small pieces to add to red or white wine vinegar along with fresh herbs from my garden.  In a few weeks, I'll have lovely infused vinegars to use for salad dressings.

Garlic Scape Infused Vinegar Photo by Tori Beveridge
Garlic Scape Infused Vinegar

I made sure to make a pesto with them and freeze it, to be brought out to be eaten when our tomatoes ripen.

I hope you'll still be able to find garlic scapes at your local Farmers' Market.  If not, make sure to look for them next year.  If you're like me and have had problems growing garlic, look into the hard neck varieties and start planning to add them to your garden.  They'll be worth the wait.

Eat Fresh.  Eat Seasonal.  Eat Local.

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