Garlic Scape Butter

Garlic Scape Butter is rich, flavorful and elegant. Top steaks, chops, pasta and more for a meal that’s over the top tasty!

garlic scape butter served

I don’t remember where I first tried compound butter, but I do remember this–it was amazing!  Then I scored a pint of truffle butter at a food conference, and after weeks of indulgence, I was a super fan!

Now compound butter is always a luxury item in terms of flavor.  But it doesn’t need to be luxury priced!  That’s why every year I make my own homemade Garlic Scape Butter!

Rich and savory, it can enhance all kinds of different foods!  And bonus here, it helps to use up the bountiful early season garlic scapes!  Sign me up! 

garlic scape butter

What are Garlic Scapes?

Garlic Scapes are flower stalks produced by hardneck garlic.  Growers remove them so that the plant directs its energy into building a robust garlic bulb rather than into making a flower and seeds. 

Now back in my youth, I don’t remember anyone eating garlic scapes. So I asked longtime CSA farmer Steve Young if he remembered when they caught on. 

His reply, “It’s been a long time (now).  Garlic scapes weren’t that popular at one time.  But now that most people know what they are, they’ve become a good value-added component of the garlic plant.

And as a locavore bonus, garlic scapes are available early in the growing season!

garlic scapes in bag

Where do you get garlic scapes?

If you are a CSA member, you are probably used to receiving garlic scapes in your June and early July boxes.  Local farmer’s markets are another good source and I have heard that local co-ops and even Whole Foods stock them in season. 

And you can always grow garlic to get homegrown scapes (though hot climates may tend to grow more soft-necked garlic which doesn’t form scapes).  I’ll be writing about growing garlic at fall planting time, so subscribe now to avoid missing out! 

Garlic growing

Are garlic scapes the same as ramps? 

Garlic scapes and ramps are similar in that they are both alliums, but they come from quite different plants. Both have herbal overtones, but ramps are slightly more onion-y while scapes are more garlic-y.  And the ramps are more tender with edible leaves.

As mentioned above, garlic scapes are a byproduct of garlic cultivation while ramps are almost exclusively wild harvested since they are difficult to cultivate. 

From an environmental standpoint, garlic scapes are the better choice.  Ramps are starting to suffer from their popularity and, because it takes years for them to mature, they are becoming endangered in some areas.

So go light on the ramps and eat your fill of garlic scapes instead. 

garlic scape

What is Compound Butter? 

Wikipedia defines compound butter as “mixtures of butter and supplementary ingredients. Primarily, they are used to enhance flavor in various dishes, in a fashion similar to a sauce”.

The “supplementary ingredients” are generally aromatics, things like herbs, onions, mushrooms, etc. that serve to build a flavor base in cooking.

It’s sometimes also called finishing butter.

Garlic Scape BUtter

Why You’ll Love This!

Flavorful.  A good compound butter like this Garlic Scape Butter can enhance so many dishes.  See some ideas below under “How to Serve”

Impressive.  Nothing like dotting the steak you’re serving with compound butter to let people know you’re a person with good taste and a sophisticated knowledge of food!

Local and Frugal!  The garlic scape would go to waste (okay it would probably be composted) if we hadn’t thought of tasty ways to use it.  So head on down to your farmer’s market in early summer to get on the bandwagon!

ingredients

What You’ll Need

Ingredient Notes

  • Salted Butter.  This provides the buttery goodness.  You can use unsalted if you prefer and salt to taste. It should be softened first.
  • Garlic scapes.  This adds an herbal garlic-y flavor.
  • Parsley (optional).  This helps to balance the garlic, but is optional if you are out.
  • Lemon zest (optional). Like the parsley, this helps to balance the garlic, but is optional if you are out.

Special Tools

  • A food processor will help to finely mince the garlic scapes, but you can do it by hand if you want.
  • A mixer is helpful to cream the butter and mix in the scapes, but this can also be done by hand.
  • Parchment or wax paper will be needed if you form this into a log or logs. 

Step by Step Directions

Cut the garlic scapes into 1 inch pieces, chop in a food processor until finely minced. 

cut scapes in food processor

Mince the parsley and zest the lemon if using. 

mince parsley

Cream the butter until smooth.

cream butter

Add in the scapes, plus the parsley and lemon zest if using.

add remaining ingredients

If you’d like to form into a log (this isn’t required), place butter on parchment and roll up. 

form into log

roll uplog in parchment

How to Serve

Garlic scape butter can be placed on the table so guests can serve themselves or it can be added to a dish or set on a steak before serving.  A log is a pretty way to serve, but garlic scape butter can also be mounded into a serving dish like a ramekin.  Sometimes I’ll create pre-formed dollops of compound butter by freezing small scoops in a mini-muffin pan, then serve on a plate, thawed but cold.

Compound butter is probably most seen topping a steak or chop.  But many dishes benefit from the flavor enhancement a compound butter provides.  Some other uses for compound butter include:

  • Spread onto or under turkey skin on a roast turkey or turkey breast. 
  • Top fish.
  • Melt into hot pasta.
  • Add to vegetables for a tasty sauce. 
  • Top rice or potatoes—baked or mashed!
  • Smear over bread or Homemade Onion Bagels

Basically, you can use it anywhere butter is added for flavor. 

steak with butter on dinner plate

Variations

An even earlier seasonal compound butter is my  Ramp and Wild Mushroom Compound Butter.  This is a great recipe to extend a usually small wild harvest of morels and ramps in early May!  

Truffle butter may be the most common form of compound butters.  You can buy it in specialty food stores or make your own by mixing finely minced truffles, softened butter and optionally a little truffle oil (see my Truffle fries for more info on truffle flavor).

Of course, if you’re loaded up on garlic scapes, like I usually am, consider making Easy Garlic Scape Pesto,  Garlic Scape Pizza or Garlic Scape Garlic Bread.

making garlic scape pizza

Preparation and Leftovers

It’s fine to make garlic scape compound butter ahead of time for convenience.  It should last a month in your refrigerator if well sealed. 

You can also freeze garlic scape butter.  Seal it tightly and ideally keep it in a freezer that doesn’t have the frost free feature which can dry out food.  It should last about six months then.

When I make garlic scape butter in bulk, I turn some into big frozen logs and some into small dollops. For the latter I freeze in mini-muffin pans or ice cube trays, then pop out the frozen cubes and place into a freezer bag.  Later, I’ll thaw just the amount I need. 

And for longer term storage, you can even try fermenting them. 

Garlic Scape Butter

Tips & FAQs

Do I need to cook garlic scapes?  No, you don’t need to cook them.  But if the garlic flavor is too intense, you can briefly steam or pan roast them.  Just as cooking mellows garlic cloves, it will also tone down the scapes. 

Cooking can also help tenderize them if they’ve been picked a bit late in the season when they become woodier.  Or cut off and compost any woody pieces.

Can I eat the whole scape?  Yes, you can eat the whole scape, flower bud and all.

How long do raw garlic scapes last?  If they are picked fresh and refrigerated, loosely covered, they can last for weeks. 

Do I need the parsley and lemon zest?  Using these is my first choice, but if I were out, I’d still make the garlic scape butter without them. 

Garlic scape butter on steak

Looking for more recipes to celebrate Garlic Month?  Then check out the tasty ideas below!

Garlic scape butter

Garlic Scape Butter

Garlic Scape Butter is rich, flavorful and elegant. Top steaks, chops, pasta and more for a meal that's over the top tasty!
Author: Inger
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 10 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Condiments
Servings 20
Calories 85 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • ½ pound butter softened (two sticks)
  • ¼ cup garlic scapes cut in 1 inch pieces (4-5 scapes)
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley optional
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest optional

Instructions
 

  • Cut the garlic scapes into 1 inch pieces, chop in a food processor until finely minced (see note).
  • Mince the parsley and zest the lemon if using.
  • Cream the butter until smooth.
  • Add in the scapes, plus the parsley and lemon zest if using.
  • If you’d like to form into a log (this isn’t required), place butter on parchment and roll up.

Notes

You can steam or roast the scapes first to tone down the intensity or to soften them if you are later in the season and they are tougher.

Nutrition

Calories: 85kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 0.3gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 74mgPotassium: 5mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 0.03gVitamin A: 317IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 8mgIron: 0.1mg
I am not a health professional and nutrition data is calculated programatically. Accuracy may vary with product selection, calculator accuracy, etc. Consult a professional for the best information.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

 

15 thoughts on “Garlic Scape Butter

  1. Wendy

    5 stars
    This is such a a delicious recipe. It’s my first time making a compound butter with garlic scapes. I can’t wait to try it on baked potatoes. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Dwight

    Going to have to try this.

    I make a great Garlic Butter, but I have made so much Pesto with my scapes this year that I have a lot left over.
    I was going to pickle them, but this is a much better idea.

  3. Sharon Morse

    Thanks for this idea. Sounds perfect for me. Grow elephant garlic here in the PNW. Use the scapes for hummus or roasted veggies. This recipe will make it more versatile. I’m thinking popcorn with compound scape butter and parmesan. Mmmmm. And no salt needed.

  4. Radha

    This sounds delicious. I like to make my own compound butter and using garlic scapes is a great idea adding tons of flavors. I love the detailed informations given in your post.

  5. Raymund

    Wow, this Garlic Scape Butter recipe sounds amazing! I’ve tried compound butter before but not with garlic scape. I love the idea of using up the garlic scapes that might otherwise go to waste. Thanks for sharing this great recipe!

  6. David Scott Allen

    I’m so glad you mentioned ramps, because my first thought was, “I could make this with ramps instead of scapes!” I know it won’t be the same, but I bet it’s still will be good.

  7. Jolene

    Saving this one for when scapes are available at my local farm. Thank you so much for all the great tips on freezing the butter!

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