When garlic scapes are left to mature on the plant, they form bulbils that are like miniature garlic cloves. These are not true seeds, but they can be planted as such. Although they take two to three seasons to develop heads, I find they're a more reliable way to propagate garlic than starting with individual cloves. For one, [because they're airborne] they don't harbor soil-borne diseases. And two, they produce a truer strain of the parent plant— and isn't perpetuating a species an important reason to save seeds?
Some of these bulbils will go back into the garden once they have hardened off, but many will find their way into the kitchen. I can't resist playing with these tiny, tender bursts of mild garlic flavor.
- Freshly harvested, they add fantastic flavor and texture when simply sprinkled on a dish.
- Pickled in a vinegary brine with a pinch of sugar, they become succulent.
- They soften and mellow in an olive oil confit with seeds and spice. Today I added green fennel seeds, grains of paradise, crushed sumac berries, and fleur de sel.
- Or, they can be flattened with a rolling pin between sheets of silpat and dehydrated. The flakes will keep their flavor and crisp texture if sealed in a jar, though I doubt they'll be around for too long.