July 12, 2008 12:17 PM   Subscribe

GarlicFilter. Are these scapes, or just immature bulbs with a stalk attached??

So I read this (which really makes me want to grow my own, by the way) biut it didn't answer my question: what the heck did I just buy from the nice Guatemalan man at the farmer's market?

He kept saying, "garlic leaf, eat like scallion"....but this doesn't look like a scape (twisted, tender, trimmed from the bulb). It's a sturdy, straight, relatively tough 18" stalk...with a small green bulb still attached. (Which he told me was "not for eating.") The stalk is tough and distinctly garlicky, so there's that.

Did this particular farmer misunderstand when/what to trim, or is this something that is also commonly sold/eaten? The texture (and I'm guessing pungency) is so off from a traditional scape I'm not sure if I would try following the same recipes. ( It's not as soft or mild as a scallion, either.)

If you're familiar with this strange object and have culinary advice, please advise. Pics upon request.

Extra points if you can suggest how to use it with pattypan squash.
posted by availablelight to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Will also take suggestions on whether or not to try to prepare and eat the bulbs, which are soft, light green, and only about the size of shooter marbles.
posted by availablelight at 12:23 PM on July 12, 2008

posted by Max Power at 12:28 PM on July 12, 2008

Best answer: Well I think it's gonna be impossible to tell without a picture (why don't you go ahead and post a link?), but my guess is:

Yes, that's still a garlic scape. The curliness of the scapes (flower stalks) depends on the variety of garlic. Mine were completely straight this year, and tough-looking and 18" like you describe. I think the bulb on top that you're describing might actually be the flower, which *should* be edible but if he said not to eat it I probably wouldn't. It's pretty darn late in the year for scapes, so I'm guessing that might be where the fibrousness came from.

You can also eat the leaves of garlic and they still taste good, though they also tend to be fibrous.

Raw garlic won't kill you, so take a couple slices and see if they're really too fibrous too eat raw. If not, use scape recipes. If it is too chewy, just mince that sucker up and fry it like you would garlic!
posted by GardenGal at 12:34 PM on July 12, 2008

not all scapes curl. On the other hand, they could have been cut before curling.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 12:36 PM on July 12, 2008

Best answer: Sounds exactly like what a local CSA has been putting in baskets and calling "garlic scapes" this year. They seem like green, garlicky sticks. I checked around online and it looks like that woodiness may be what happens if they're harvested too late.
posted by dilettante at 12:41 PM on July 12, 2008

Response by poster: Pic.

Sorry it's not the best photo--this shows you the bulb--on either the top or bottom.

The other end of the stalks are blunt cut.

"green, garlicky sticks" is a pretty good summary--it seemed to me that these were just past their prime too, but I wasn't sure if there's a legitimate culinary use for the older ones like this. They're tough and mighty strong in the raw.
posted by availablelight at 12:59 PM on July 12, 2008

They look like straighter versions of what I've been getting from my CSA. I chop them fine and sautée them for stir fries or curries.
posted by PatoPata at 1:06 PM on July 12, 2008

Yeah, those are scapes, and those are flowers on top. Don't eat 'em.

Like I said in my previous comment, if they're fibrous then they were harvested too late, or the weather got too hot, too quickly. But you can still mince them and fry them, and they will taste good.
posted by GardenGal at 1:35 PM on July 12, 2008

Best answer: They are scapes, they've just been left on the plant rather long and have gotten big and tough. Disagreeing with GardenGal, they're not really flowers on top, though they would look flowery if they opened.
posted by jon1270 at 3:29 PM on July 12, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, guys.

The bottom three inches of the stalks were soft enough to work with (anything above was so woody I had trouble even cutting through).
posted by availablelight at 4:27 PM on July 12, 2008

GardenGal: "Yeah, those are scapes, and those are flowers on top. Don't eat 'em. "

Thread hijack: Why not eat the flowers? I have been ... am I doomed?
posted by librarina at 5:02 PM on July 12, 2008

Well like I said above, I thought they'd be edible, but if the farmer said not to eat them...

And Jon, I'm a little confused with how you mean that they're not flowers just because they haven't opened. If you mean I should have said "buds", persnickity but ok, but otherwise is there a different term for garlic reproductive organs that I should learn?
posted by GardenGal at 6:53 PM on July 12, 2008

Response by poster:
Thread hijack: Why not eat the flowers? I have been ... am I doomed?
posted by librarina at 8:02 PM on July 12 [mark as best answer] [+] [!]

How are you preparing the flowers to eat them?

If you peel the "garlic reproductive organ" open, it does indeed look the center of a daisy, only round and green.
posted by availablelight at 8:41 PM on July 12, 2008

Sorry, GardenGirl, I missed that in your comment.

availablelight: I have just been not trimming the tips from the scapes when I cook them. So they get cooked the same way as the rest of the scape (grilled or sauteed usually). For the most part the flowerpods have been pretty small on my scapes, though I have eaten them when they are big too. I do trim the long tips, as they are kind of tough, and also char too easily on the grill.
posted by librarina at 10:04 PM on July 12, 2008

Best answer: Gardengirl --

Garlic Bulbils...

Bulbils form if a scape is allowed to mature. The scape is the stalk growing out of a bulb. Although it is sometimes referred to as a ‘garlic flower’ it is not really a flower. Like cloves from a bulb of garlic, bulbils propagate garlic vegetatively and the bulbs that grow from them are clones of the parent plant.
posted by jon1270 at 2:56 AM on July 13, 2008

BTW, mine got big and rather tough before I got around to harvesting them this year. I wouldn't have put them in a stir fry, but they were fine when pureed for pesto (bulbils included).
posted by jon1270 at 2:59 AM on July 13, 2008

I eat the flower-looking parts too. I just chop them up with the rest of the scape.
posted by miss tea at 5:02 AM on July 13, 2008

Thanks Jon, that's a great link!

/off to obsess over garden pr0n some more...
posted by GardenGal at 6:57 AM on July 13, 2008

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