Every June it appears the gardening world is flooded with garlic scapes. These are the curious flower stems that are removed from the plants before they can form flowers. It is widely held that removing the scapes increases the size and quality of the bulbs that will be ready to harvest in a couple of weeks.
A truly great way to make long term use out of garlic scapes is to dehydrate them. While this can be accomplished using a conventional oven on its lowest setting, it is far easier to do with a food dehydrator. A dehydrator typically involves some sort of contained area with a fan and an adjustable, low temperature filament. It is a fun and useful tool for the gadget-savvy cook.
One word of caution: Whether using a food dehydrator or regular kitchen oven, this is a long and strongly aromatic process. Have ventilation in mind going in.
Start with any quantity of cut garlic scapes. Give them a rinse in cold water, and shake them dry. If refrigerating for later use, pat them dry with kitchen towels beforehand.
Step 1. Remove the flower bud shortly below where it attaches to the scape. There is usually a slight colour shift from green to slightly yellow at this point on the scape, but is not usually more than 2cm (1") from the bud itself. The flower buds are also edible, and can be set aside for pickling using a different recipe.
Step 2. Use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife to cut each scape into short pieces, around 8cm (3") long, or shorter. At this stage the garlic scape pieces can be blanched and frozen just like beans and peas.
Step 3. Run the garlic scape pieces through a food processor to form particle-sized crumbs. Don't go as far as turning them into a paste, but break them down fairly finely. It is much easier to dry these tiny particles than the whole scape by itself. This can also be achieved by chopping them to a fine state by hand if no food processor is available. If using a knife, please be careful and thorough.
Step 4. Line the shelf or tray of the dehydrator with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Then spread out the processed scapes into a thin, single layer. Take some time with this so there is plenty of space for air circulation.
Run the dehydrator on its herb-drying or vegetable setting, around 32-37°C (90-100°F). Allow the dehydrator to run for a good six hours, until the particles are VERY dry. They should retain their bright green colour, and the largest particles should snap rather than bend.
The dehydrated garlic scapes can be stored in this form in a sealed glass container, and will retain their flavour for months.
Step 5 (optional). We like to take it one step further and run the dried particles through a high powered blender or spice grinder to achieve a fine, green powder. This is great for adding a hint of garlic flavour to dressings, mashed potatoes, etc...
At this final grinding stage, other dried herbs and spices can be mixed in to create a whole range of flavourings. Consider grinding the dried garlic with some sea salt or pickling spices. What about adding some powdered ginger and Indian spices? Or some sesame seeds and Korean gochugaru chili powder?
To create Dehydrated Garlic Scape Powder without a food dehydrator, preheat the oven to its very lowest setting. Follow the steps above, and use a parchment-lined sheet pan. Open the oven every twenty minutes or so, to allow moisture to escape, and stir the particles with a fork. It may take several hours to reach the dehydrated state, depending on the oven and how often the particles are stirred. Be patient, and set the timer with vigilance.