Danyelle is an AmeriCorps member serving Tacoma Farmers Market as the Fresh Express Mobile Farmers Market VISTA in Washington. Her service will help to bring fresh fruit and vegetables to low-income communities where individuals and families can utilize the SNAP EBT incentive program. Her goal will be to help alleviate poverty in Pierce County.
A peculiar looking ‘vegetable’ appeared in Tacoma’s Fresh Express Mobile Market’s this month; curly garlic scapes (CGS). These thin, curly, green stalks come into season in the late spring and early summer, when they’re often sold in farmers markets. Garlic scapes are the stalks that grow from the bulbs. If left unharvested, the scapes eventually bloom flowers when the garlic plant matures. As it grows up it will begin to curl or spiral upward when the stalks should be cut as far down as possible. As the picture shows, they look like long, curly green stalks with an enclosed bud on top. Farmers and gardeners harvest them in June, when the scapes hold the best flavor for cooking.
Cutting the stalks helps to not drain the nutrients from the garlic bulbs that will be harvested later in the season. Scapes can be used as an alternative to garlic. They are considered a vegetable, are very aromatic, and can be used like an herb. Milder in taste than garlic cloves, scapes can be minced or cut into pieces for cooking.
If you are lucky enough to find them before the end of their season, try making delicious garlic scape pesto. Pesto can be used on flatbreads, pasta, or sandwiches. Another simpler, yet satisfying preparation is just to grill them with olive oil, salt and pepper, and serve along side your favorite entrée. CGS last up to three weeks if refrigerated in a sealed plastic bag and freezing them for a longer time is also an option.