Garlic Scapes, Garlic Spears, Garlic Stems, Garlic Tops, Garlic Bolts Or Even 蒜苔

Garlic scapes, spears, stems,  tops, bolts or 蒜苔(in Chinese suantai)) are the  immature flower stalks of garlic. If they have the flowers still on they will curl calligraphically, otherwise they are often sold in farmers’ markets cut down. They are cut off by farmers to encourage the garlic bulbs to grow juicy and fat.

The scapes of elephant garlic (not a true garlic in fact, it’s a kind of leek) can be eaten more like asparagus.

Seven things to do with garlic scapes:

  1. They make a mean pesto.
  2. Put into an oiled roasting pan and top with a generous sprinkle of smoked sea salt and a generous slosh of olive oil. Perhaps some thyme if you have it. Put into a hot oven (210ºC) for about half an hour. A creamier taste than ordinary roasted garlic.
  3. Cut into short lengths and blanch briefly (a minute or two) in boiling water. Drain. Serve in a lemony vinaigrette dressing.
  4. Add to salads.
  5. Use as a garnish on soups (especially good with mushroom soup).
  6. Fry with other vegetables – courgettes for example.
  7. Use it in a risotto.


For the classic, and all kinds of variations on the classic, way to make pesto, follow this link.

For tips on how to make the best risotto, follow this link.


When are garlic scapes in season? Mid-June is the time to catch them. You can get garlic scapes from Bridget’s Market.



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