What is Garlic Scape?

Malcolm Tatum

The garlic plant has more than one usable portion. While many people are aware of the many uses for the garlic bulbs, not as many are aware that the stalk of the garlic plant is also edible. Often referred to as the garlic scape, the stalk also contains flavor and can be used in a number of different recipes.

Garlic scapes.
Garlic scapes.

The garlic scape serves as the stem from which the seed head of the garlic bulb is formed. As the bulb begins to grow and mature, garlic stalks also begin to lengthen. During the growth period, the stalk begins to curve. Contained within it is a great deal of flavor, although the stalk never does reach the level of the pungent garlic bulb itself. Initially, the scape is relatively tender, making it ideal for use as an ingredient in several dishes. As the plant continues to mature, it gradually begins to straighten, creating more support for the bulb. At this juncture, it is much tougher and ceases to be usable for most recipes.

Garlic scape can be a flavorful ingredient in numerous types of stir-fry dishes.
Garlic scape can be a flavorful ingredient in numerous types of stir-fry dishes.

It is not unusual for the garlic scape to be harvested while it is still young and tender. Chopped into short sections, it's a tasty addition to just about any type of stir-fry. The flavor adds a mild aroma as well as taste to the stir-fry, easily integrating with the other ingredients. The texture of the small sections of the scape also can help to make the stir fry recipe a little more appealing as well.

Head of garlic.
Head of garlic.

The garlic scape also has a place in many different pesto recipes. Used to compliment the addition of onions to the pesto, it provides just enough of a hint of the garlic flavor to be pleasing in the recipe. As with the stir-fry, it can also add another layer of texture to the pesto.

Anyone who wishes to add the taste of garlic to a recipe that calls for onions will find that using garlic scape will provide enough of a bite to fulfill the purpose of the onion, as well as give the recipe an added dash of aroma and flavor. For instance, it works well with just about any tomato-based soup, as well as giving new life to old favorites such as chicken soup. Many ethnic based restaurants that offer some type of egg drop soup may also include a small amount of scape in the recipe, along with chives and other greens.

Pasta with pesto sauce made with garlic scape.
Pasta with pesto sauce made with garlic scape.

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Discussion Comments


Yes, cut just below the point that the plant starts to curl at the top. That piece that you cut off is edible and is called the scape.


eat the seed pod heads! They're great in an edible pea stir fry this time of year when they are usually removed to allow bigger bulb growth.


We've planted lots of garlic last fall but still have no scapes as of mid-July. they are turning a bit brown though. Is this common and when should we harvest? Thanks.


you remove the top seed bulb before it's too big so that the bulb underground can grow larger. the FOOD goes then to the bulb, not the top seed bulb. they also love compost lots of it or mushroom compost.


I've heard of removing the pod near the top of the plant to help keep the greens coming, but have never heard that removing the pod helps the bulbs to grow. Do you have the plants in pots or planted in a garden? I would suggest if you have several plants, remove the pod on one and watch it closely. I suspect the worst case scenario would be no impact on the bulbs and more greens to use in place of chives in recipes.


My garlic plants have a pod at the top. Should this be cut off to increase the bulb size?

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