Wild, Wild Ramps!
Allium tricoccum — commonly known as ramp, ramps, spring onion, ramson, wild leek, wood leek, and wild garlic — is a North American species of wild onion widespread across eastern Canada and the eastern United States. It is similar to better known in Texas chives, but with more delicate and intriguing flavor profile. I often use ramps as a flavoring ingredient for my tasting events and catering. French omelets with ramps are admired and remembered by everybody who tasted them. Green ramps paste adorns fresh pasta, risotto, soups, beans — they become unforgettable. Ramps compound butter is another hit. Try adding it to blanched asparagus, broccoli, brussels, or to cooked carrots, green peas, or potatoes. Pickled ramps are an amazing accompaniment to roasted or grilled meats and poultry. Ramps’ mild yet complex flavor pairs well with seafood.
Preserving Green Goodness
The season for ramps is short and, depending on weather conditions, it starts earlier or later. In Austin, watch for fresh ramps in Central Market in April-May, or you can order them online. Since they grow in colder climate, wild ramps are exotic for Texas. Because they are foraged and delivered from Northern States, they are expensive. But their unique flavor is so worth it! Give them a try.
Ramp leaves and bottoms can be separated for use in different recipes. Delicate greens can be added to salads raw, or to the cooking dishes near the end of the cooking process. During the annual Wild, Wild Ramps! cooking party, each of us preserves about 5 lb of ramps to use them for cooking during the year. In this class, we prep greens for freezing, make compound butter, and pickle them. Pickled ramps are stored in a fridge, the rest — in a freezer.
Green Potion Number 1013
Dehydrating ramps is another way to preserve their flavor. Using dehydrator makes it easy, especially if it has a temperature setting for herbs (95F). I usually choose baby ramps for drying, because their tiny white stems can’t be used for pickling. Note, that stems will take about twice longer to dry then green tops. Finely chop dehydrated ramps and store them in glass containers, just like other herbs. Besides using dry ramps for seasoning any kind of food, you can make a delicious herbed soft cheese.