Saturday, April 23, 2011


The Stream
This is the day I wait for all year: my first ramp-hunt.  Now, I happen to have a tried-and-true, secret spot that I return to each year, but if you're looking for one of your own, try forested stream banks.  They seem to like a mixture of sandy soil and dark soil, but they definately like moisture.

A Ramp Riot
What's a ramp, you ask?  It's a wild growing allium, which you must recognize as a member of the onion or garlic family.  Also known as wild leeks, ramps offer a powerful blend of both the onion and garlic flavors.  A little goes a long way, so only pick what you'll use. They can be chopped and frozen, or pickled (though I haven't tried this).  Best of all, ramps are one of the first wild vegetables available in the spring, and the entire plant is usable. 

They look like Lily of the Valley.  DO NOT EAT LILY OF THE VALLEY!
When you begin to dig your ramps, you should notice that distinctive garlic-onion smell immediately.  I use a narrow gardening trowel to insert under the root, and lift it, as I use both the root and the leaf.  Smell those ramps; there's no mistaking them!  

Skunk Cabbage is Often Present at Ramp Sites

Nature provides us with such beauty.  I'd wear this fungus like jewelry.  But I digress.

Ramps in a Basket
Take your ramps home, and give them a good bath to soak the remaining soil from their roots.

Each ramp root is covered with a thin membrane.  Simply push it forward...

To reveal your clean white ramp root.  Then snip it off.  A ramp bris.
That's all the preparation your ramps will need, initially.

Final Bath
When the ramps are all trimmed, give them a final rinse, then put them in a plastic bag or covered dish in the fridge.  When you've had enough fresh-ramp dining, chop the rest, and freeze in small portions for use over the winter.  There's nothing like the taste of ramps in the winter to remind you of spring!  They really liven up your winter root dishes!

Wash Water
Save all that rinse water for your garden.  The remaining soil can't hurt!  And since there's no soap or oil, it's perfectly fine for watering your cultivated veggies. 

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