QUESTION: Can I eat the green tops of garlic? I’m not sure how to prepare them, what do I do with them? -Anthony S
ANSWER: Yes, the green tops of hardneck garlic, called “scapes,” are edible and can be consumed raw or cooked. They are similar in taste to chives, with added garlicky flavor, or like a milder version of the garlic bulb. Cut the thick stem in the middle of the leaves when it starts to twist into a spiral shape, and the garlic bulb will continue to grow underground. In fact, trimming the scapes as the garlic grows encourages the plant to direct more of its energy toward developing the cloves underground and less energy on the green tops.
Raw, the scapes can be snipped into green salads, tuna salad, potato salad, egg salad, chicken salad, risotto, or soups, added to sauces and curries, whirled into pesto and bean dips, served in salad dressings, as well as used as a topping for baked potatoes. Whole, they can be steamed for six to eight minutes, grilled, roasted, or sauteed, and served as a side dish similar to green beans and added to pasta salad or tabbouleh. You can also cure the scapes in vinegar for at least a week to pickle them, and once the jar’s seal is broken, they will keep for a month when stored in the refrigerator.
To store, you can blanch the scapes in boiling water for 30 seconds, then move them to an ice bath, and freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet before moving to a Ziploc freezer bag for frozen storage. You can store them in a plastic sandwich bag in the refrigerator for two or three weeks or at room temperature in a glass of water for a few days. Outside of culinary purposes, you can use them in floral arrangements or in compost.