Other names: Garlic Scape
General Information: Garlic whistles are the tops of growing garlic plants, with the flower just as a beginning bud. If they were left on the garlic plant they would bloom into a typical allum looking flower. When munched on they are wonderfully crunchey and full of spicy garlic flavor.
Garlic is in the alium family, which is also home to onions and lilies. Like other aliums, garlic grows from a bulb upward into green leaves and flowers. Depending on which alium you're growing, you'll be looking for a different part of the plant. The leaves of the green onion (scallion) are its most sought after trait, while lilies are at their peak when flowering. With, garlic, the bulbs are generally preferred.
Garlic is planted in the fall, in the form of single cloves buried in the soil with their sprouting ends turned skyward. As spring breaks and they scream upward. Like any good angiosperm, this period of rapid growth quickly initiates the development of the garlic's supreme reproductive vehicle, the flower, which we know as the garlic whistle (aka scape). In mid-June, emerging from the crux of the garlic bulb's sprouting crown appears a long, slender, curving 'gooseneck' with a pointed flower bud at its apex. This is a crucial point in the life of our beloved garlic, and it is at this point that the farmer must play asignificant role in shaping its future. The farmer must choose between allowing the plant to devote its energies to the production of seeds resulting from the maturation of its flower; or the farmer must pluck (and eat!) the tender whistles from the garlic stalk, thus fooling (perhaps) the garlic into fortifying its bulb, producing larger, more potent heads of garlic.
Spicy Tuna Sandwich with Garlic Whistles