Wow! I don’t know about the rest of the country, but here in Southwest Missouri, we have totally skipped Spring! We went from cold, snow and ice to 80-90 degree temps in about 2 weeks, literally! While I’m still trying to get all the garden planted, some of the garden is about ready for harvest! The garlic, which I usually harvest in late June, is all but ready! The scapes have just started forming, but the leaves are starting to die off, which means harvest is just around the corner. For several years now, I have clipped the scapes, dried them in the dehydrator and ground them into a garlic scape powder that I add to my home made seasoning mixes and use as added flavoring to meats, soups and veggies. The scapes shoot out of the hard-neck varieties of the garlic family, usually late June and early July, and if left unharvested, eventually bloom as an indication that the garlic is mature and ready to harvest.
Just a short time ago, I knew nothing about this delicious delicacy. But it seems that these intriguing curling tendrils that shoot out of the top of each garlic plant have many uses. These little jewels are not only an herb, as garlic is sometimes categorized, but they can stand alone as a vegetable! I liken them to asparagus, in the look they have when grilled with butter and salt. They can be used in soups, to flavor such appetizing dishes as pesto, and make a great addition to freshly churned butter…..imagine scape butter spread on fresh home-made bread stick….but, wait, I am getting totally side tracked. My focus today is saving these, in ground powdered form, to use as flavorings, seasonings, and spices to use year round. The process is simple, but takes a bit of time. If you are as intrigued as I was, come with me, and I will walk you through the process.
The first thing you need to do is harvest the scapes. Simply cut the stalk near the base with a pair of scissors. Even with a fairly large amount of garlic, this is a quick easy process. I take a basket or bucket to the garden with me, a pair of scissors and in just a few minutes, I have a bunch of scapes ready for dehydrating.
After picking or “snipping”, the scapes, I take them into my canning kitchen and fill a sink with cool water and rinse. There isn’t much dirt, per se, but this gets any dust or bugs that might happen to be on them off.
After rinsing and draining, I cut them into pieces small enough to fit into my dehydrators. I have a 9 tray Excaliber and also still have a 10 tray Magic Aire II , the equivalent the new L’Equip, that belonged to my later mother in law. I love them both. Excaliber has a temperature control and a timer, which makes it perfect for anything, but my old one works great for herbs and such that need to be very dry and over drying is not a problem. I layer the scapes onto the trays, with no overlap and leave them to dry for at least 24 hours. One of the keys to success for long term storage is to have all the moisture removed so that no mold develops.
When the scapes are completely dry, I run them through my vitamix, grinding them into a fine powder. I’ve tried my food processor, but the vitamix does a much better job of making fine powder that mixes well with other spices and adds flavor without having large fibers to contend with.
After grinding, I pour the Garlic Scape Powder into canning jars and vacuum seal to retain the flavor, lock out moisture and store on the pantry shelves. Viola! I now have the wonderful flavor of garlic scapes to use year round. As you can see in the last picture below, I also have Green Onion Powder, to use much the same way. While some say the garlic scapes taste just like garlic, I respectfully disagree. To me the garlic scapes have a lighter flavor, and even those that are not garlic fans have raved about the flavor they add to many dishes. One of our favorite ways to use them is on venison steaks. I lightly fry with only salt, pepper and garlic scape powder which allows the flavor of the venison to come through. There are times that no matter how much venison steak I fix, it is just not enough, and we wish there was just one more bite! If you try this process, please let us know how YOU use the powder in your modern pioneer kitchen. For more information on harvesting the Garlic bulbs when the time comes, check out my post here.