Green Heaven: Garlic Scape Pesto

Garlic Scapes
Garlic Scapes

In case you missed us, Savoring Kentucky has been to the doctor (thank you, NKO) and recovered from a set of maladies, none contagious, but still quite debilitating. Instead of blaming the weeks of distress on the vagaries of open-source blog engines, on the uncontrollable negatives that swatted our older posts because they were, oh, about 95 in blog years, we should simply have fed Savoring Kentucky some fresh garlic as a spring tonic and all-around fixative. It would have saved so much pain and suffering!

Didn't do it, paid the price, but you, faithful readers, can at least protect yourselves from general malaise by landing some late season garlic scapes (watch the first 50 seconds of this video if scapes have escaped you until now.)

If you planted garlic cloves last October, you'll find the scapes in your garden right now, in the center of hard-neck garlic plants. If your garden is scape-less, check out a garlic emporium like Blue Moon Farm, or a beloved farmers' market. The prize? Garlic Scape Pesto (Savoring Kentucky recipe.)

How does this scape bounty happen? A few weeks before harvest, hard-neck garlic varieties put up a bloom stem that curves around and practically writes its name in green a couple of feet above the ground. Removing these pencil-slender stems keeps the garlic plant from putting too much energy into reproduction instead of continuing to plump up the bulb underground.

For the first time this year, the Campsie garden produced enough scapes to make pesto. This year's success follow some mushy brown prior year experiments best left in the garlicky fog of the past.

I happened to have all the ingredients on hand.

Garlic Scape Pesto Ingredients
Garlic Scape Pesto Ingredients

The brilliant green results look like Summer Solstice to me, all sun and chlorophyll and flavor and phyto-nutrients. Offered at a Cornbread Supper as an accompaniment to savory corn muffins, the pesto lasted about 125 seconds. Some people treated it as a salad and ate it with a spoon.

Garlic Scape Pesto
Garlic Scape Pesto

I recommend growing garlic for the multiple ways it enlivens the home table (hat tip to SNC for telling me about home garlic production years ago.)

  1. Garlic's life cycle in Kentucky's midwest/upper south climate begins with planting near Halloween.
  2. Green shoots brighten the winter garden.
  3. Whole green garlic, chopped and used like green onions, punches up the flavors of March and April. Ms. Blue Moon Farm, aka Jean Pitches Keene, has told us that even the roots are edible.
  4. By early June, the scapes appear and must be harvested (oh, dang!).
  5. Soft-skinned whole garlics can be harvested in June as well. Their ease of use and sweet flavor make me wish this almost-ready stage lasted all year long.
  6. When the garlic bulbs are ready to come out of the ground, some of the plants' green leaves turn brown and begin drooping.
  7. Cleaned of dirt and left in a dry place, the mature garlic bulbs will last easily three months, unless you eat it at the pace we do on Campsie Place.

Update: Backyard Boss offers more ideas about how to use garlic scapes here.

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