I had ducked into Tacoma Boys for a quick stop and the items on my short list had made a smooth transition into my cloth bag. Then a barrel by the exit door that cradled some green stalks with unopened buds caught my eye. Even with the thick red rubber bands binding their stems into small bunches, they didn’t look like any flower I had ever seen so I paused to check them out.
They were garlic spears, also known as garlic scapes, sprouts, shoots, stems, or tops. They are the above ground seed pod and stem of the elephant garlic plant that are trimmed off in the spring so the plant can focus its energy into growing the garlic bulb.
These are typically discarded but they are becoming recognized for their culinary uses as people have realized how versatile these little stems are. They are only harvested for a short time in June so it’s a real treat when you can get them.
I picked a bundle up and did an about-face right back to the checkout line. I had never even heard of them before but I wasn’t passing this up!
There are many ways to prepare and use them. Here are some options.
I went the simple route and sautéed them lightly in a splash of olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper. They were tender and sweet, reminiscent of a mild young asparagus spear with mellow garlic flavor. I cooked the seed pods with them as I had read that they could be eaten too but I found them to be a bit tough and lacking in much flavor. But the stems were fantastic. I kept sneaking a few more onto my plate, they were so tasty.
I am hoping I can find some more this spring. Otherwise, I’ll be waiting impatiently until next spring! Maybe this will give me the impetus to finally grow some garlic in my own garden. Imagine, REALLY fresh garlic spears….yum!
I haven’t seen them anywhere else except Tacoma Boys. Do you know another place to find them? Or a great way to prepare them? No time to waste, these will be gone for the year soon! Please share below in the Comments.