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Forage for Ramps (Wild Leeks) and What to Do With Them !

Updated on February 3, 2016

The wild Ramp!

Ramps are a wonderful and pungent perennial plant which grow in the wild in close groups. We have them here in New England and they are supposed to be found in other areas in the eastern US and eastern Canada.

Of course, they are in "Stalking the Wild Asparagus" by Euell Gibbons, under "wild leek".

They are also called wild leek and wild garlic among other names. They aren't that tall and have light to medium green leaves and white stalks and bulbs similar to scallions. All these parts are edible.

When foraging for them in early spring (which is when they are the most tender), cut them off at the bottom of the bulb with a pocket knife keeping the plant still in the ground. This way the root system of the plant can keep on producing. If you just yank to entire plant up including the root, eventually that area will be severely depleted. Keeping the roots in the ground will ensure Ramps for next year's foraging expedition.

Following are some links to other sites with real good information on Ramps.

What to do with this awesome vegetable?

First and foremost say a hearty and grateful "Thank You" to the foragers for bringing you this bounty. Then you have to get down to the nitty gritty of sorting, cleaning and processing the Ramps.

Cleaning the Ramps

First I wipe off and remove the thin outer layer at the bulb part of the Ramp. If you have a lot of Ramps this will take up a bit of time. Then I wash the Ramps and put them through a salad spinner to remove any excess moisture. You want them to be dirt and grit free before cooking with or processing them.

Dehydrating the Ramps for storage

I like to use a couple of different ways to preserve the Ramps. This method is by drying them. Their are other methods of drying vegetables but I like to use an electric dehydrator.

I rough chop the leaves and slice the stalks. Then into the dehydrator they go. Drying times can vary so check them periodically and they are ready when very dry & brittle to the touch.

You can store them in jars or zip lock bags or if you have a vacuum sealer that would work nicely. Keep them in a cupboard or drawer away from light.

You can add them to soups and stews and they reconstitute nicely.

Preserving Ramps as a "Pesto"

This method keeps that bright fresh taste of the Ramps. I use this method to preserve green herbs such as Basil, Parsley & Cilantro.

Put chopped Ramps, both green leaves and the white stalk & bulb, into a food processor or a blender. I used the food processor this time.

Start the food processor and slowly drizzle in olive oil or vegetable oil until a thick paste forms. I prefer olive oil for this. You can add seasoning (salt & pepper), parmesan cheese, etc to make it a true pesto, but I leave it just as the Ramps and the oil. This allows me a bigger variety of culinary uses for the "pesto".

Scoop this lovely goodness by teaspoon or tablespoon onto a cookie sheet and place in the freezer.

After they are frozen, store in freezer containers, zip lock freezer bags or if you have a vacuum sealer, use that. Pop in the freezer.

When you want to add some Ramp goodness to your cooking, remove as many of the frozen disks as you want or need and add to the dish you are cooking.

REMEMBER - with Ramps, a little goes a long way - they are extremely pungent!

Use them in place of garlic in your cooking.


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