It’s ramp season! I almost don’t want to talk about ramps because of the frenzy they induce. There’s something about them–of course, it’s the taste of them–but the fact that they are elusive just makes them that much more desirable. Ah, the lure of forbidden (or just hard to find) food. I try to make due with other wild onion-y greens, but truthfully they don’t hold a candle. I’ve been hiking around in the woods up here for a long time and have never found them.
Until the other day. I was actually thinking about ramps as I was walking in the woods. For ten minutes I was thinking hard about ramps. I was thinking: I hate you ramps! I don’t even want you. And then poof! There they were. I must admit, it felt pretty special. I only took a small handful, and out of the handful I only picked two bulbs. The bulbs I planted in my yard. The leaves that I sliced off at the neck of the bulb were turned into ramp compound butter. I used my “special” butter, cultured and made with local cream. We had it on homemade sourdough bread. It was pretty amazing.
Then a few days later I got up the nerve to contact a neighbor of mine. For years I’ve noticed a lovely patch of green in their shady yard. I have always suspected they were ramps. I was right! And they were kind enough to dig up a clump for me to plant in my yard. It was a forty-year old patch planted by the family. I left a few jars of quince jam on their doorstep in return. All this time right under my nose! When I asked them how they enjoyed their ramps, they said chopped up on bread with a drizzle of olive oil. Very simple and probably very good.
By far, the best thing I did with my small bounty of ramp leaves was to put a single leaf in a small jar of vinegar. In my ramp research, I found that drying ramps dilutes their flavor, and that freezing isn’t a good preserving technique either (unless it’s in a compound butter). I know this is the second post in a row of me just putting something in vinegar, but the ramp vinegar proved to be stellar, and it’s results were immediate. I did one with white wine vinegar and one with apple cider vinegar. They are both delicious–garlicky and leeky– and should last the summer. You only need one leaf for eight ounces of vinegar, so whether you buy them or find them, it’s a good economical use for your precious allium!