The Real Difference Between Garlic And Garlic Scapes

To understand the real difference between garlic and garlic scapes, you need to know that there are two kinds of garlic. There's hardneck garlic and softneck garlic, which grows leaves instead of a single stalk from its bulb. It's hardneck garlic with the single stalk that grows garlic scapes. The scape itself is actually just the stalk that's been cut away from the bulb before the stalk flowers (via Cooks Illustrated). 

By cutting the stalks or garlic scapes before they grow a bud or bloom, the plant can put more into growing bigger bulbs that develop more flavor (via Bon Appétit). Ultimately, this means that garlic scapes are mild with a light garlic flavor that doesn't have the same burn that garlic bulbs have. Similar to green garlic, garlic scapes are usually found in farmers markets during the months of spring and early weeks of summer. The best part is that garlic scapes are very easy to cook and compliment tons of dishes thanks to its more herbaceous garlic flavor.

This is how you can use garlic scapes

According to Cooks Illustrated, garlic scapes make a great addition to pesto or stir frys because the flavors all work so well together. You could also easily sauté chopped garlic scapes along with other spring vegetables, like tender green peas or asparagus in a pan with butter, before mixing it into a spring pasta. Serve it with chicken and you've got a completely delicious meal to satisfy most anyone. They might also make an intriguing new ingredient for focaccia art bakers too. 

Cooks Illustrated points out that stalks of hardneck garlic "have a tough and fibrous texture." Which means you'll need to make sure you cook them through to ensure they are easy to eat. Otherwise, you'll need to pulse them in the food processor until a paste forms if you plan to use them raw in something like pesto. So, pick up garlic scapes the next time you see them at your local farmers market or grocery store. You just might be surprised at how many dishes could use the mild alternative to garlic cloves.