During one of my long runs for my marathon training a couple weeks ago, I was running through a woods trail and I ran past what seemed to be a field of greens that popped up almost overnight, I had been through about 3 days earlier and there wasn’t anything green, and all of a sudden, 4 inch tall plants. I stopped for just a moment to investigate and I quickly realized that these are the wild ramps that I keep hearing about (I broke off a leaf, and it smelled very much of onions).
I had never heard of ramps until this last year, which seemed odd to me because its the kind of thing I normally seem to know about. However it turns out I have just always known them as Leeks. As far as I can tell, ramps and leeks are the same thing, it seems like if you find them up north they are called leeks and further south they are called ramps. I found a couple references that mentioned they may be different plants, but they are so closely related it would take an expert to tell them apart.
Ramps are an easy wild edible for you to safely identify, wild onions do not have any real poisonous look alikes, as long as you can break a leaf and it smells like an onion, and the same with the root, it will be from the onion family and is edible, if you pick something that the leaves or root does not smell like an onion, you have found something else that I wouldn’t suggest eating!
So for the past two weeks, Meagan and I have been having ramps in everything. I picked a bag full a couple days after I initially found them, and then I have since been back and picked another good sized bag of them. These are a great edible, because of how easy they are to prepare, and the fact you use the entire plant, not just the bulb or root of the plant. For the most part, we have been just chopping the whole plant up to use in stuff, we haven’t been treating the leaves and the bulbs different. The only place we used one or the other was in some BLT sandwiches we had tonight, we just cut the leaves off to put in with the lettuce in the BLT.
We have probably done a dozen meals so far with the ramps, but to just highlight a couple of them:
The above picture is of some perogies we made, they are just frozen perogies we prepared, we then stir fried some portabello mushrooms in butter and at the end we added some fresh chopped parsley (from the aquaponics) and we tossed in the ramps. You don’t want to cook the ramps, you just want to wilt them. Put the perogies together with the mushroom and ramps, then add some fresh chopped tomatoes and a bit of sour cream and you have an easy awesome meal!
This picture is just a simple baked potato with shredded extra sharp cheddar, sour cream, and some diced ramps. Also we found that using Hawaiian pink sea salt really brings out the flavor. Also on the plate is the prepared ramps, just dice up a couple of those per potato and you are good to go.
We are already dreading the end of the ramp season, we still have a few weeks left, but we are getting quite spoiled by having a nice bag full of them any time we feel like getting them out. You could substitute green onions for them most places, but they are way more expensive (especially since the ramps are free if you can find them!), and the ramps do have a unique flavor all their own.