Seasonal eats: 6 reasons to love garlic scapes

 

Photo by Nocivelgia, from Flickr

The Carp and Perth garlic festivals are a month away but in the meantime, we have a few weeks to enjoy the green, mild-tasting shoots, or scapes,  harvested from hard-necked varieties of garlic at this time of year.

What are garlic scapes?

Like its relatives in the Allium family (onions, leeks, shallots and chives), garlic grows underground, developing into a soft bulb. As the bulb grows and hardens, a shoot resembling a green onion pokes up through the soil and twists into a tight curl before straightening.

Harvested while green and crisp, garlic scapes make a delicious, versatile addition to salads, dips and grilled vegetables. Unharvested, the scape turns into the woody garlic stalk or neck, and reduces the potential size of the garlic bulb.

While the health benefits of garlic scapes haven’t been studied, they likely have similar advantages to garlic itself, such as reducing the risk of certain chronic diseases and improving the immune system.

Storing and preserving

Store garlic scapes in the refrigerator and use within a week so they don’t wilt and lose their flavour. You could also freeze them (blanch first for 60 seconds, then plunge into icy water) or even pickle them.

Tasty, nutritious, easy to prepare

Here are six reasons to make garlic scapes part of your early summer eating.

  1. They combine fresh, mild garlic flavour with crisp texture and add visual punch to any dish.
  2. They’re versatile:  You can eat them raw or cooked. Chop them into a salad, stir fry or soup; grill them with other veggies; purée them to make pesto; or sauté them and add to an omelette. (Try sources such as Canadian Gardening, Canadian Living and Saveur for recipes.)
  3. In season, garlic scapes are easy to find at farmers’ markets or may be included in your CSA basket. (BTW, you won’t find them at the supermarket — at least not yet.)
  4. They’re only 30 calories per 100 grams.
  5. While studies on the topic are hard to come by, it’s reasonable to assume that scapes share nutritional benefits with garlic bulbs. For example, garlic is: high in manganese; a very good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C, and; a good source of fibre, thiamin (vitamin B1) and the minerals phosphorus, selenium, calcium, and copper.
  6. Garlic has been known for its healing properties since 3000 BC. Studies show that it contains anti-microbial, anti-cancer, and antioxidant benefits, as well as the ability to reduce cardiovascular disease, boost immunity, and protect against diabetes. Again, garlic scapes may offer similar medicinal attributes.

Where do you buy garlic scapes? What’s your favourite way to prepare them?

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