What I Did With My Ramps

Ramp on Kate Spade Lenox

In short I ate some, I planted some.

The ramp fresh out of the dirt, the three leaves, the sinful smell.  Then the first bite of the year, into the raw ramp bulb.  The richly nuanced sensations which cross the tongue, then fill the entire mouth, the full brain after that, the quick shot down the entire spinal cord and into the pulse of spring waiting within us, then the magic of the ramp and the myths. ~ David Voodoon Noble

Ramps can be eaten raw. It’s like a cross between an onion and a clove of garlic..with unknown vital funk thrown in… I’ll go with ‘life force’. Fair warning, one bite of the raw bulb hits me with respectable heart burn. Leaves are not as powerful. Ramps are powerful good and powerful smelly. I suggest eating them with one you love because you are gonna be too stinky for anyone else to tolerate. Be kind to each other and be stinky together. Stinky loves company.

We live in a world where if we so choose, we can eat strawberries or lettuce out of season. A hundred years ago, heck, 50 years ago, people gaunt with cabin fever and sick of beans and brown food must have been starved for that bright green and white life fulfilling taste of ramps in early spring. Ramps can be used in a lot of things..good in scrambled eggs, pasta, etc. but I like them best pickled. I’m not a food blog so there’s no recipe.

First I washed and trimmed them. On the right is perfect for pickles. Normally the tops on the left would be used for other dishes but this time I wanted to see if I could pickle the greens as in Korean or Japanese style pickled vegetables.

Washed and Prepared Ramps

I put pickling type stuff in the pot, set it to boiling, then put in the ramps. I cooked them up until they looked good, then I took them out and put them in a jar. A clean jar. A clean jar plucked fresh out of boiling water. You don’t get out of public school in farm states without learning how to can food.

Now the experimental cooking part. I had no recipe or experience with anything like this before. I decided it might be a good idea if I quick blanched the leaves, layered them in a jar and then poured in hot pickle juice. I used the vinegar, water, sugar ratio from the other pickled ramps recipe, boiled it up and threw in a couple of tablespoons of those pickling spices you buy in a store.

The steps:

I thought I’d go all Liziqi food blog and tried to shoot with the left hand while ladling extremely hot pickling brine with the right. I fumbled the phone and the right hand forgot it had a hot ladle in it. Thank God I spent all that time and money on dance. I jumped well. Still, I pickled my slippers along with the counters, the stove, the floor. I boiled up some more brine and finished the job. Cleaning that floor was hard but I was very grateful it was the floor and not my feet.

I’m posting non-linearly. When I returned from the woods I separated the ramps, set some aside for planting and some for cooking then planted the full bulb ramps. Then I prepared the cooking ramps and set them aside. Then I experimented.

I had read several places online that you could take the root ends of ramps that are usually discarded, take those and plant them. I planted the ends I saved from preparing ramps for pickling:

I was so tired from foraging, preparing and planting ramps both ways, whole and just roots, I had to do the pickling the next day. It’s best to prep and cook on the same day but I cannot do that. It’s all good. I’ll know next spring how planting ramps and ramp roots worked out. If they flower later this year I will save the seeds. It takes 6-7 years to grow an edible ramp from seed. It’s why they are hard to find. I intend to sew any seeds somewhere appropriate in the dune woods around my home. Michigan is loosing it’s state flower, the Trillium, to over population of deer. I had also read online that deer avoid Ramps and deer avoid plants that are close to Ramps. I want to experiment with seeding Ramps among remaining Trillium.

I have dedicated a lot of my time these past few years to propagating and spreading native wildflowers. I work very slowly, with due care and rest, meds and ice in between. All humans need to feel useful. There is so much I can no longer do but saving native wildflowers and plants as well as native pollinators is something I CAN do. Besides, pickled ramps are right tasty. Stinky tasty, but tasty just the same.

Published by dunelight


11 thoughts on “What I Did With My Ramps

  1. “All humans need to feel useful”. I couldn’t agree more, and you’ve proved that it’s always possible, even if you feel that it’s only useful to yourself. That said, I’m sure many will have found your post useful too.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. My friend, the one with MS and cancer, people leave her out but she still has gifts and gives freely. Look at those we dismiss, even Downs Syndrome people, I call them True Lilies of Field (we have two on husbands side) are useful and giving to others in their lives.

    1. When I was 4-5 I heard a news story at the time of a 4 year old who had grabbed a pan of boiling strawberry jam on the stove and burned herself to death with it…the fear and horror of farm wives everywhere. In those days everyone was poor and everyone put up (canned) food. That kind of death happened a lot in those days. That child’s fate was drilled into my head. No jam is as good as homemade so we still make our own. We wear thick shoes (My slippers were thick lambskin.) and something, not loose, but can be torn off in a flash so scalding goo doesn’t stick to the skin. I would have had burnt spots on my left foot but would have had to take my right foot to immedia care for 2nd degree burns. I would have burnt my right leg if not for years of dance. I am grateful.

      Do you two put up your own jam. You love your garden so..strawberry season soon.

      1. We don’t put up, and, apart from tomatoes and runner beans, concentrate on flowers. That was good precautions you learned so long ago. My brother bore scald scars all his life from pulling a boiling saucepan of water onto himself when he was about 2

  2. I’ve never heard of this plant, but I do love garlic and onion. I’m not sure what I would make of unknown funk, but given some of the other stuff I eat, I would definitely give it a try … 😀

  3. I’d never heard of ramps until this year, as they don’t grow out west where I live. They look and soun ddelicious! Thank you for planting some. I hope that you get seeds to sow in the wild. The Earth needs that!

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