Savoring the seasons: Solstice = strawberries + scapes + super supper

The Recorder. June 18, 2014. By Mary McClintock. 

Saturday is summer solstice … the longest day of the year here in the northern hemisphere. To me, solstice is the time for savoring sweet strawberries and producing garlic scape pesto for future use.

What are your favorite strawberry recipes? Please share!

Never been formally introduced to a garlic scape? Let me explain. Garlic plants have three sections — underground bulbs we call “garlic,” green leaves that look like straight spears, and, this time of year, flowering stalks with a closed flower bud, called a scape. Scapes have a round cross-section and a characteristic curled shape. Farmers and gardeners cut off scapes to keep the plant from flowering, encouraging growth of the bulb. Garlic scapes are available now in many local markets, farmers markets and farmstands.

What do they taste like? Comparing scapes to garlic bulbs is like comparing green onions to onions. Scapes have a somewhat milder, “greener” garlic taste.

What to do with them? Enjoy raw scapes cut into small pieces and used like green onions in salads or as topping for chili or soup. Or saute scapes or cut them into chunks and stir-fry them with other vegetables. Use raw scapes to make pesto like traditional pesto uses raw basil, or try Dan Botkin’s delicious grilled alternative (see below). If you make pesto from raw scapes, Dan recommends using very fresh, tender ones.

Garlic scapes pesto is a great way to preserve the scape harvest. I freeze pesto in freezer zip-lock bags. Get some scapes and enjoy them, now and later.

Summer solstice is also time to plan the annual Free Harvest Supper. I first learned about garlic scapes pesto from Juanita Nelson who sold garlic scapes at the Greenfield Farmers Market for many years. This year’s Free Harvest Supper will be on Juanita’s birthday, Aug. 17.

For the 10th year since Juanita dreamed up the first Free Harvest Supper, a group of volunteers is planning that special late summer evening when we’ll gather on the Greenfield Town Common and savor the sweetness of community and abundance.

Each year around solstice, I wonder if enough folks will come forward to help organize the event. We’re seeking an entertainment coordinator, a food coordinator and other organizers. Later, we’ll need “many hands” to make light work at the supper.

And, perhaps some of Juanita’s friends will freeze garlic scapes pesto for the Free Harvest Supper chefs to use as a birthday surprise for Juanita.

Want to help? Email the committee at or call 413-773-5029 or email me at

10th annual Free Harvest Supper of Locally Grown Food, Sunday, Aug. 17, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Greenfield Town Common/Court Square (corner of Main Street and Bank Row). Enjoy a free meal of locally grown food prepared by local chefs, accompanied by live music, children’s activities, educational displays, and a “Really, Really Free Market” of locally grown food. Seeking volunteers, food donations, and organizational displays. For more information, visit:

This Week We’re Eating …


By Dan Botkin, Laughing Dog Farm, Gill (based on Mary’s notes from chatting with Dan at the Greenfield Farmers Market in June, 2008)

Garlic scapes are best when well-cooked. To make pesto, first parboil the scapes until they’re soft, then grill lightly until they’re the consistency of butter (like well-cooked leeks). Puree in a food processor with oil, some lemon juice and sea salt. If you’d like, add parmesan-type cheese and nuts. Dan uses chestnuts, and doesn’t measure precisely, but you can use a basil pesto recipe and replace the basil with scapes or find a garlic scapes recipe online. Experiment to see what proportion of ingredients you like best.