Garlic Scapes from Min Hee Hill Gardens  they had 'em for dinner last night

Garlic Scapes from Min Hee Hill Gardens they had ’em for dinner last night

Garlic scape, we definitely thought, “WTF is that?” These twisty, curly, bright green stems are also sometimes called garlic shoots, stems or spears. The garlic that we all know and love has separate cloves and papery skin. That stuff starts out as green garlic (or spring garlic), before it matures. The bulb and roots grow underground while a stem, leaves and scapes soak up sunshine up above.

Obviously, garlic is amazing for lots of reasons, but here’s our favorite one: the whole plant is edible. This includes the scapes, which are treats that come along each early summer in markets and CSAs. Garlic scapes taste (duh) like garlic, but a bright, fresh, verdant version of it. You can use them anywhere you’d use regular garlic.

“So,” a friend recently asked me, “is there any real reason I should buy garlic scapes instead of garlic?” Cooking with garlic scapes is like getting to have scallions that taste like garlic — so yes, go get some while they’re around!

From Serious Eats –7 things to do with garlic scapes

 

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It’s spring and the market is full of spring things!  Fava beans, green garlic and the first cherries of this year.

It’s taken 5,000 years, but the fava bean seems to be making inroads into the New World.    There is the bean but you can also eat the tendrils as with pea sprouts.

The pale green beans in the big floppy pods have been a beloved early spring food on much of the planet for centuries. Favas — also known as Windsor beans, English beans, horse beans and pigeon beans — have long been diet staples in Asia, the Middle East, South America, North Africa and Europe.

These ancient beans are one of the oldest cultivated plants and among the easiest to grow. They were the only beans Europeans ate before they discovered America and all its legumes. They took our beans home and left us the fava, which never really caught on.

After preparing them, you begin to understand why. This is a labor-intensive process. First, you string and shuck the beans, then parboil them before removing from a waxy coating. It is something to do on a Sunday afternoon around the kitchen table or on the front porch with friends. For Americans, that’s a lot of time to spend on a bean.

Unshelled, fresh favas look like giant, bumpy string beans. They are 5 to 7 inches long and lined with padding that looks like cotton batting. You don’t want the beans to be bulging out of the pod — which means they are probably old.

Young favas can be eaten pod and all.  A few vendors have the beans already shelled.

Fava beans are a relative of vetch family (peas) and is a great cover crop for small farmers which is why more favas are making it to market.

 

Green garlic and garlic scapes add delicate garlicky flavor to spring and early summer dishes. These hallmarks of spring are available starting in March in warmer climates and into July in cooler ones.

Green garlic and garlic scapes are only available at farmers markets

Green garlic is simply immature garlic and looks like a slightly overgrown scallion or green onion. They are pulled by growers when thinning crops and, increasingly, grown as a crop in their own right. Look for specimens with fresh green tops (no dried ends or soggy leaves). To use, trim off root ends and any tough part of the green leaves. Chop or slice white, light green, and the first few inches of the dark green leaves (as long as they are tender). Use as you would green onions or garlic, noting that it is stronger than the former but milder than the latter.

Garlic scapes are the curled flower stalks of hardnecked garlic varieties grown in colder climates. They are cut off by growers to encourage better bulb growth and available through early summer in colder growing regions. Crunchy, with a mild garlic flavor, garlic scapes are great in salads and stir-frys. Garlic scapes also make delicious Garlic Scape Pickles.

Demand for both green garlic and garlic scapes is growing as more restaurants put them on their menus and people discover their mild but distinct flavor.

The California Bing Cherry season is underway.  Some people call it the sweetest six weeks of the year.   Fun, sweet and flavorful, California Bing Cherries are perfect for snacking right out of hand.

Farmers with lots of garlic love -Bernier Farms – they can answer any question about garlic.  Armstrong Valley Farm – Tom started growing garlic when he learned over 90% of garlic sold in the US comes from China.  Min-Hee Hill Gardens has  lovely garlic chives too!  Hector’s Honey has garlic scapes now!

The best place to find the perfect ingredient is at The Original Certified Santa Rosa Farmers Market.

 

 

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