The Health Benefits of Garlic Scapes

Garlic is a well-known culinary and medicinal ingredient. It has been used for more than 7000 years, and is found in numerous cuisines across the globe. Besides adding a rich, robust flavor to dishes, it has many health benefits that make it an important part of your diet. However, not everyone realizes that the stems of garlic (scapes) are also edible and offer a host of unique health properties. The next time you visit the farmers’ market or your garden, don’t pass up on these curly green gems. Scapes are a wonderful alternative to garlic cloves and have a similar flavor to scallions and chives, with a bit less punch.

In addition to being a tasty addition to your favorite savory dishes, garlic stems are packed with antioxidants and nutrients that help protect the body from disease. The plant’s compounds are thought to boost the immune system and help prevent cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Additionally, the stems are a great source of fiber, which can aid in digestive function and prevent constipation.

The stems of garlic are known as scapes, and they’re usually harvested in late spring or early summer. They look a bit like large scallions or chive stems, and they’re much longer than green onions. They grow straight, but eventually curl and thicken around themselves as they mature. A bulbous endbud is then formed at the bottom of the scape, and this is typically cut off to encourage the plant to put its energy into the bulb rather than producing flower buds.

Scapes are a popular crop for a variety of reasons. They’re a nutritious alternative to garlic cloves in many recipes, and they come into season right when my stored garlic starts to wilt or sprout. They’re also a great option for gardeners who want to reduce the amount of garlic they need to grow, but still get plenty of flavor and nutrition from their garden.

One of the most significant advantages of consuming scapes is their high levels of vitamin C. This essential nutrient can strengthen the immune system, reduce oxidative stress and promote healthy skin. In fact, recent scientific research has shown that consuming garlic shoots can actually increase the absorption of vitamin C in the body, which is particularly beneficial for people who have low levels of the nutrient.

Whether they’re added to soups, stews, or salads, the fresh taste and vibrant color of scapes will add depth and complexity to any dish. They’re also a great addition to homemade pasta sauce, and they can be grilled or roasted for an added crunch and subtle flavor.

The best way to enjoy scapes is to simply cook them with other vegetables, meats or fish for a hearty and delicious meal. You can even try blending them with some olive oil and freezing them in ice cube trays for a convenient way to add flavor to meals. The health benefits of scapes are impressive, and they’re a perfect example of the farm-to-table, no waste movement that encourages home cooks to utilize every part of their produce.