Spontaneous Stock with a Strong Scent


By Kerri Conan

Last weekend I got one of those gee-I-wonder-what-will-happen-if flashes. I was standing at the sink, snipping the tough ends from the bottoms of just-picked garlic scapes, the lily-like flowers that sprout up from hard-neck garlic as the plants start to form bulbs underground; there should be some in farmers markets for at least the next week or two.)

Anyway, the pile of these extremely fragrant green sticks is growing, and they’re weeping a little garlicky nectar from the cut ends—sort of like tears—and now I’m thinking surely there’s a way to save my precious darlings who never hurt anyone from the compost heap. Or at least delay their demise.

These little numbers are the size of old-fashioned waxed paper drinking straws and just about as fibrous. But when you gnaw on them a bit like sugar cane, you extract a sublime and surprisingly mild flavor, the sort of elixir that ought to be bottled—or frozen. So I throw them in a pot, cover them with cold water, and set them to boil. Only to see what might happen.

After 90 minutes of simmering they softened only a little, but the whole house smelled of mellow roasted garlic, and the cooking water had turned a pleasant greenish brown. I sprinkled some salt on a spoonful (waiting to salt the whole batch until it became time to use it) and declared the garlic stock yum: slightly grassy and complex, without the sharp edges of raw or even green garlic.

But not quite done. I popped a lid on the pot and refrigerated the whole thing overnight. The next morning I fished the stalks out with tongs, tasted again, and poured the stock into Ziploc bags for the freezer. I reckon a pound or so of scape shake made two quarts—enough for a couple nice soup bases or an unreal batch of mashed potatoes.

Posted in Produce


  1. Anonymous said...

    Scapes are one of my favorite treats from our CSA…right after ramps. (Hmmm, see a pattern here?) Your stock idea is BRILLIANT and no doubt will make dreamy mashed potatoes. Go, Kerry, go!

  2. operagirlcooks said...

    Wow, brilliant idea! I’m thinkin’ there might be some garlic scape risotto in your near future. Yummm. http://operagirlcooks.com

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