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.
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.
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.