Garlic: The Plant That Keeps on Giving

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When you think of garlic, you probably imagine compact bulbs wrapped in papery white husks. These are the fully matured vegetables of the garlic plant, harvested in summer or early fall after the greens begin to yellow and topple over. Once dug out of the ground, the bulbs are cured (dried) for a few weeks before they arrive at nearby farmers’ markets.

But you don’t have to wait until fall to enjoy the pungent kick of locally grown garlic. In spring and early summer, when garlic plants begin to sprout, farmers harvest two adolescent forms of the herb to optimize the productivity of their crops: green garlic (a.k.a. spring garlic) and garlic scapes.

Green garlic is nothing more than baby garlic plants that have been pulled up to make room for the development of neighboring plants—a tasty byproduct of crop thinning. They arrive at the Farmstand in various forms of growth, some with no bulb at all (like scallions), some with little bulbs at the end but no clove separation, and some with fully formed bulbs and cloves. The youngest will be the mildest in flavor, and the oldest, predictably, will be the most pungent. It’s much less intense than cured garlic and is delicious raw or cooked.

Green (a.k.a. Spring) Garlic Recipes

Garlic scapes are whirly green shoots that emerge in early summer, as hardneck garlic plants begin to mature a bit. At the end of the scapes are tightly closed, pointy buds. If they are left to grow and develop on the plant, scapes will use up valuable nutrients and energy, which may in turn retard the growth of subterranean garlic cloves. That’s why farmers harvest these bright green tendrils and bring them to market this time of year. Like green garlic, scapes can be enjoyed raw or cooked, and in any application where you’d use regular garlic. They’re a little spicier than green garlic, with a uniquely bright, verdant flavor.

Garlic Scape Recipes