Making Garlic Scape Pesto

in homesteading •  last year  (edited)

Garlic scape pesto crop June 2016.jpg

I have made garlic scape pesto for several years now. Last year I made 15 pints of it. I learned a few years back that if you press garlic or in some way chop it fine and let it sit before cooking, the medicinal properties of the plant are stabilized and can survive light cooking.

When I had a mouth infection a few years back I would eat a few tablespoons of pesto off and on during the day and it really seemed to help it heal quickly. I’ve used it regularly for fighting various ailments and it usually helps. So it looks like the processing from making it into pesto also stabilizes the properties. So I make it for medicinal use. (I also eat a lot of it as a snack…)

I used to make a lot of scape pickles, but the medicinal properties are lost in the heat, as the scape is not chopped. I really liked the scape brine, and used it on and in lots of things. I will use the oversize scapes for pickles.

Garlic with scapes2 crop text June 2018.jpg

To harvest scapes, wait until they are about 12” long and less than the thickness of a pencil. Cut them (I use scissors) right where they join the first leaf.

Pesto - washed scapes crop June 2018.jpg

Washed them and use a colander to let them dry.

Pesto - chopping crop June 2018.jpg

Chop them, including bud and skinny tip, into 1” - 2” pieces. My food processer is old, so I tend to go smaller.

Pesto - 10 batches scapes crop June 2018.jpg

This is 10 batches of pesto or 5 lbs of scapes

I prefer to make big batches of things, so as to do them just once or twice. There will be more scapes coming along in a week or so, so I will probably turn those into pickles.

Pesto - ingredients crop1 June 2018.jpg


Pesto - weighing scapes crop June 2018.jpg

Weigh out ½ lb of scapes.

Pesto - veg level crop June 2018.jpg

Don’t be tempted to make more than 1 batch at a time. Food processers will not do a good job of breaking up the scapes if overloaded and you will have tough pieces throughout.

Add the salt, ⅓ of the oil, and the lemon juice and run the processer for a minute.

Pesto - partially chopped crop June 2018.jpg

You can see the tough bits are all up the sides, so this needs to be scraped down where the blade can impact it. You will need to do this 2 – 3 times, adding ⅓ oil each time, depending on how thoroughly you prefer your pesto broken down.

Pesto - finished chopped crop June 2018.jpg

This is how I like mine.

Pesto - adding cheese crop June 2018.jpg

Turn it into a large enough bowl for mixing and add the Parmesan cheese. Fold that in with a spatula until well mixed.

Pesto - funnel to fill crop June 2018.jpg

Using a canning funnel, fill the jar ¾ full. This is a greasy business and the funnel helps keep the jars clean.

Pesto - air spaces crop June 2018.jpg

You can see there are a lot of air spaces. Use the spatula to pack them down and release them. Then finish filling the jar to the bottom of the first ring, removing air spaces.

Pesto - 1-2 inch headspace crop June 2018.jpg

This will leave about ½” headspace to allow for expansion when frozen.

Pesto - labeling crop June 2018.jpg

Wipe the rim and seal. I use old lids for freezing as long as the coating and rubber are undamaged on the inside. Then I label using freezer tape as it won’t come off when frozen.

Be sure to use the straight side canning jars for freezing. Anything with a shoulder will break.

I got 8½ pints from that bowl. I found it took slightly more than the recipe to fill each jar.

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Thank you for the detailed explanation, with pictures. I feel like if I knew what a scape was I would be able to follow these instructions and end up with a tasty meal.

I have never heard of scapes before though. Are they called something else as well or, maybe related to something I would have heard of?


Garlic Scapes are basically the flower stalk on a garlic bulb. When growing garlic you cut the flower stalk off so the plant doesn't use the energy to make seeds and you end up with a bigger bulb. You could throw the flower stalk away, or you can use it to cook. I can't say I've ever seen them in the store, but I have seen them in farmers markets and CSAs. They're usually 12-18" and twisted in shape.


Thanks for the clarification and thank you again for a detailed and informative post!


Good reply! Thanks!

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I love garlic scapes. I remember the first time I got them in a CSA some years back and wasn't sure what to do with them. Pesto is great, but I really enjoyed them pickled as well.

oh YUM! I can't wait until we have more scapes. :)

Great posto and pesto! He ge 💚💚😂 love scapes!!

Thank you for sharing your recipe! We love garlic scapes around here and look forward to it every year.


Today's post is garlic scape pickles... :))


ha, thanks for letting me know! :)