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It's Time to (e)Scape!

Posted 5/30/2010 9:10pm by Cheryl Ferguson.

Garlic scape

Scapes!  It’s that time of year when these tasty but little known parts of the garlic make a brief appearance in the field springing up above the foliage of the plants.  We only have a couple of weeks to enjoy them young and tender, so we get busy gathering and bundling and rushing them to market.  So what exactly is a scape?  There are lots of descriptions out there is but I like this one by Washington Post blogger Kim O'Donnel (A Mighty Appetite):

Here's the anatomy lesson:  Garlic and its relatives in the allium family (leeks, chives, onions) grows underground, where the bulb begins its journey, soft and onion-like. As the bulb gets harder (and more like the garlic we know), a shoot pokes its way through the ground. Chlorophyll- green like a scallion (maybe even greener), the shoot is long and thin and pliable enough to curl into gorgeous tendrils.

This stage of growth is the garlic scape, folks. If left unattended, the scape will harden and transform from green to the familiar opaque white/beige color of garlic peel. Keeping the shoot attached will also curtail further growth of the bulb. So, in an effort to allow the garlic to keep growing, the farmer is getting a two-fer with this edible delectable that cooks are just beginning to discover.

The amazing thing about scapes is that they shoot up quickly (one day they aren’t there, then the next day there they are!) They stand up, bend over, and curl around like a little piggy tail.  That’s when they’re tender and tasty.  But after a few days of whimsy they know it’s time to get back to garlic work, so they stiffen their backs and straighten right up again.  Of course, stiff means tough, so if we don’t harvest them before that point, you won’t enjoy them very much.

Scapes are incredibly tasty and are quite versatile in the kitchen.  You can use them in stir-frys, chopped in cream cheese, as well as in some yummy scape-centered recipes like the pesto or bean dip that you’ll find on our recipe page.  Ray’s favorite is grilled scapes – quick, easy, and really good.  The folks who sampled his cooking at market thought so, too.

Last Tuesday at Krankies Farmers Market, Michelle Ferrier of Locally Grown News paid Ray a visit to find out what these bunches of strange curly things were at our table.  Here’s a link to her article and photos:  http://locallygrown.live.communityq.com/detail.html?sub_id=26300

Thanks for the coverage, Michelle!

So run right out and get a scape while you can!

Scapes on a plate

Tags: Garlic
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