Garlic Scape Butter is rich, flavorful and elegant. Top steaks, chops, pasta and more for a meal that’s over the top tasty!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
What You’ll Need
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
Looking for more recipes to celebrate Garlic Month? Then check out the tasty ideas below!
- Garlic Butter Pasta by Jolene’s Recipe Journal
- Sauteed Garlic Spinach Agrodolce by Palatable Pastime
- Garlic Scape Butter by Art of Natural Living
- Caesar Tartlets with Sweet Garlic Butter Crusts by Karen’s Kitchen Stories
- Garlic Rolls by The Spiffy Cookie
- Ginger Garlic Quinoa by Magical Ingredients
- One Pot Penne Alfredo by A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Granulated Garlic & Onion Potato Cheese Soup by Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice
Garlic Scape Butter
- 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
- 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.
- Maple Glazed Carrots
- Kale Sweet Potato Salad