Garlic scapes are the long, curly green shoots that grow out of the garlic bulb. They are the immature flower stalks of the garlic plant and emerge in the spring or early summer. Garlic scapes are typically harvested before they flower, while they are still tender and flavorful. They have a mild garlic flavor and a slightly crunchy texture, and can be used in a variety of dishes, including salads, stir-fries, and pestos. Garlic scapes are packed with nutrients and have been used in traditional medicine for centuries due to their numerous health benefits.
Health Benefits of Garlic Scapes:
Garlic scapes are the long, curly shoots that grow out of the garlic bulb. While many people discard them, these flavorful greens are packed with nutrients and have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Here are some of the health benefits of garlic scapes:
High in Antioxidants
Garlic scapes are high in antioxidants, which are compounds that help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage cells and contribute to aging and disease. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and help prevent or reduce the damage they can cause. Some studies suggest that consuming antioxidants may reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
May Lower Cholesterol Levels
Garlic scapes may also help lower cholesterol levels, which is important for heart health. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that can build up in your arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. Some studies suggest that garlic may help lower cholesterol levels by reducing the production of cholesterol in the liver. Garlic scapes contain many of the same compounds as garlic bulbs, so they may have similar cholesterol-lowering effects.
May Boost Immune Function
Garlic scapes may also boost immune function, which is important for overall health. The immune system helps protect your body from infections and diseases by recognizing and attacking foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses. Garlic contains compounds like allicin, which have been shown to have antibacterial and antiviral properties. While more research is needed, some studies suggest that consuming garlic may help boost immune function and reduce the risk of infections.
May Have Anti-inflammatory Effects
Garlic scapes may also have anti-inflammatory effects, which can help reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a natural response to injury or infection, but chronic inflammation can contribute to the development of many diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Garlic contains compounds like diallyl sulfide, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects in animal studies. While more research is needed, consuming garlic scapes may help reduce inflammation and protect against chronic disease.
May Have Anticancer Properties
Garlic scapes may also have anticancer properties, which is important given the prevalence of cancer in the United States. Cancer is a disease characterized by the uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells in the body. Some studies suggest that garlic may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as stomach and colorectal cancer. Garlic contains compounds like allicin and diallyl sulfide, which have been shown to have anticancer properties in animal and test-tube studies. While more research is needed, consuming garlic scapes may help reduce the risk of cancer and protect against its development.
How to prepare garlic scapes:
Garlic scapes are a versatile and delicious ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are some ways to prepare garlic scapes:
- Grilled or Roasted: Toss garlic scapes with a little olive oil and grill or roast them until tender and slightly charred. This brings out their sweetness and adds a smoky flavor.
- Sauteed: Heat a little olive oil or butter in a pan and sauté garlic scapes until they are tender and slightly browned. Add them to omelets, pasta dishes, stir-fries, or salads.
- Pickled: Make a quick pickle by combining equal parts vinegar and water, a little sugar, and some salt. Bring the mixture to a boil, then pour it over thinly sliced garlic scapes. Let them sit for at least an hour in the refrigerator before using them in sandwiches, on salads, or as a garnish.
- Pesto: Puree garlic scapes with pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and a little lemon juice to make a delicious and flavorful pesto. Use it as a sauce for pasta or as a spread on sandwiches and crackers.
- Raw: Garlic scapes can also be eaten raw. Slice them thinly and add them to salads, tacos, or sandwiches for a fresh and garlicky flavor.
When preparing garlic scapes, it’s important to trim off the tough ends and remove any flower buds or seed pods. The remaining tender stems and leaves can be used in your favorite recipes.
Overall, garlic scapes are a delicious and nutritious addition to your diet. They are high in antioxidants, may help lower cholesterol levels, boost immune function, reduce inflammation, and have anticancer properties. So, next time you have some garlic scapes on hand, don’t discard them – try using them in your cooking to reap their health benefits!