Garlic scapes are the green shoots of the garlic plant. Garlic has been used as food for thousands of years. It is one of the first plants to be cultivated and the Ancient Egyptians revered it. The Egyptians used garlic to feed workers, and a shortage of garlic was known to cause work stoppages among the slaves who built the pyramids. The believed that garlic enhanced the laborer’s capacity for work. Garlic was among the items found by excavators in Tutankhamun’s tomb in the early 20th century. The Papyrus Ebers — which dates back to 1550 BCE — shows that garlic was prescribed in Ancient Egypt. It was used to treat abnormal growths and problems involving blood circulation.
The Ancient Greeks were also believed to be fans of garlic as evidenced by archaeologist’s findings in Crete. Greek temples dating back to 1400 BCE contained garlic. The Greeks also believed that garlic could improve a worker’s strength and stamina. They added it to the diets of soldiers who were going into battle. It may have been provided to athletes in the first Olympics before they competed.
Like the Egyptians and the Greeks before them, the Romans also believed garlic to be beneficial for strength. Dioscorides approved of garlic for treating circulatory problems because he believed that it cleaned the arteries.
Ancient China and Japan also made use of garlic, as did other parts of Asia. Garlic was being used in Asia as far back as 2000 BCE. Garlic scapes are especially popular in dishes from this part of the world where it was considered both medicine and food. As a medicine, garlic was believed to treat both fatigue and erectile dysfunction. In Ancient India, it was prescribed for general healing and for treating heart disease.
While Asian cooks have used it consistently, the garlic scape is now drawing attention from cooks and foodies in the west. You can find it in many farmers’ markets near the end of spring.
Like many other popular seasonings, garlic arrived in the U.S. via European immigrants and became a fixture in American cuisine.
Garlic scapes flavor profile
Garlic scapes taste exactly like garlic but are considerably more aromatic and have a mild herbaceous flavor that some liken to that of chives. The scapes are so pungent that they might be unpleasant for people who are iffy about garlic or who do not like strongly odorous foods.
Health benefits of garlic scapes
The health benefits that you will get from garlic scapes come from nutrients like:
- Minerals: Garlic scapes provide decent amounts of calcium and iron.
- Fiber: You can get a moderate portion of your daily dietary fiber requirement from a serving of garlic scapes.
You can use garlic scapes as a remedy or preventive measure for health issues such as:
- Osteoporosis: In addition to being a rich source of calcium, garlic scapes also contain protective compounds that can prevent the decrease in bone density that often comes with age.
- Cancer: Along with the fact that they contain cancer-fighting antioxidants, garlic scapes also contain diallyl sulfide and other sulfur compounds known to induce cell death in lung cancer cells.
You can use garlic scapes just as you would use garlic in a recipe. Saute, roast, or pickle them. You can add them to soups or stir-fried dishes. They are great for making pesto, and you can grill them like asparagus.