Garlic scapes are the flower stalks and flower buds of hardneck garlic, leeks and onions.
If they are not trimmed off before they flower two things happen:
1) the plants' energy goes to producing flowers, inhibiting the growth size of the garlic heads underground; and,
2) the pollinators enjoy the pollen of the garlic flowers and tiny garlic plants come up everywhere in your flower beds the next year.
How do I know? because more than half of the scapes in the red colander are from our flower beds.
The scapes must be picked young if you want to use them. If not harvested now, they dry up and become tough/stringy and horrible to use in pesto. Definitely harvest them before they form flowers.
This year we also grew leeks and they are now forming scapes, too. They will get used in the same recipe. But there are lots of other recipes
Garlic Scape Carbonara – Sarah’s Cucina BellaGarlic Scape Pesto – Dorie Greenspan
White Bean and Garlic Scape Dip – The Kitchn
Pickled Garlic Scapes – Not Without Salt
Garlic Scape Pizza – Herbivoraceous
Asian Pickled Leek Scapes – A Baking Life
Here's what I do with ours. I use scissors to cut them into pieces that easily fit into the food processor bowl and turn it on. Then, I add enough olive oil to make a slurry. After that add lemon juice, salt and 2 cups of walnuts. Run the food processor until it's all smooth.
The result is a creamy spread or aoil that I freeze in small containers. Last week I used some of last year's production on a vegetable side dish. So good.
Our farmer's market also has scapes at some of the vendor tables. Don't miss out on these wonderful spring greens!