Ramping up

Pick and eat wild ramps

May 26, 2008

Wild edibles are popular in the spring because there are loads of tender young leaves and flavorful blossoms along with bulbs and shoots fresh for the eating. Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are a member of the onion family and they taste like it — sweet and spicy.

Many compare this wild green’s flavor (ramps are typically found in deciduous forests around the world) to a melding of sweet onion and garlic. The broad, light green leaves are flavorful, but the bulb is tasty as well, similar to that of a scallion. Popular ramps preparations include sautéing them in butter or any fat, adding them fresh to soups, and pickling or drying them for later use.

Ramps are prime for the picking in most areas in May, which is the month during which ramps festivals take place around the U.S. Ramps are native to Appalachia, but can be found as far north as Canada, as far west as Missouri, and as far south as Tennessee.

Two food bloggers recently supped on the peppery wild green. Danielle Sucher, of the blog Habeas Brûlée, cooked up a ramp udon soup with asparagus tempura with ramps from her local greenmarket in NYC. And Debra Solomon, of Culiblog, shared photos and words about her recent wild-ramps escapade in the Amsterdam Bos, a large forest park near Amsterdam.

Although Solomon ate the leaves freshly picked, she plans to return and harvest more. Included in her post are recipes for ramp kimchi and ramp confit, from the food blog No Recipes.

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