Ramp up your day!April 23, 2015
“Ramp” up your day! The hunt for the wild leek!
This beautiful green bunny eared staple of the woods is an early riser in spring, popping up in April and growing all the way into May. Besides the ferns, ramps are the first woodland plants that Mother Nature caresses with her heavy paint brush, making them easy to find among the dull brown background of winter’s past.
Right now the ramps are at their peak! So don’t miss out! Go find them leeks!
- Put on your boots, grab your shovel and a bag, because you’re most likely going for a hike. Ramps love to grow on hillsides in the woods.
- Next you need to know what you’re looking for. Study this picture to the right. Most ramps have two or three broad green leaves and remember they grow in patches. So if you find one, more are bound to be around. Tip: If you think you’ve found what you’re looking for, snap a piece of the leaf off the plant. You should smell a strong mixture of onion and garlic.
3. Once you locate your first ramp patch you’re ready to start digging! Usually spades or foot shovels work best. Carefully loosen the soil around the patch of ramps and gently remove the leek trying not to break or snap off the bulb. You’ll be harvesting roots and all! Tip: Dig the broadest leaved ramps and leave the smaller ones. Usually the ramps with three leaves produce the largest bulbs. Also, this will allow the younger ramps to spread out, multiple and grow. Don’t wipe out your patch! You still want ramps to grow for years to come.
- 4. Once you’ve dug your fair share, it’s time to go home, clean your ramps and start thinking about all the dishes you can incorporate them into. Be certain to wash your ramps thoroughly, just like you would any green onion. Remove the roots by cutting them off the bulb, but don’t cut too much off the bottom! The entire plant is edible from leaf to bulb. Tip: Ramp enthusiasts save the roots after cleaning and replant them where they were originally harvested. The root systems of ramps are known to regenerate, growing a new plant in place of the one that was dug up (like perennial bulbs).
5. Now you’re ready to bake, fry, dehydrate and chop up them ramps! Below you will find a few recipes that will have you searching for ramps year after year!
- Visit Heston Farm’s in Fairmont WV and try their one of a kind Ramp Shine! It’s bound to have that wild kick!
1 cup ramps, green and white parts
1/3 cup white-wine vinegar
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Kosher salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
- Trim off ends of ramps, clean and chop into ½ inch pieces (green and white parts).
- Place ramps, vinegar and mustard in a blender and process until pureed.
- While the blender is spinning, slowly pour in olive oil and blend until emulsified.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
1 large bunch ramps, cleaned (about 15 ramps)
1 small bunch oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
1/3 cup homemade ricotta cheese (see recipe)
1 tbs butter, divided
2 slices thick country bread
salt and pepper
Using a chefs knife, breakdown ramps, separating bulb and stems from leaves. Coarsely chop leaves and dice stems and bulb. Heat two sauté pans over medium heat, melting 1/2 tbs butter in each. Add mushrooms to one pan, and ramp bulbs and stems to the other. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cook mushrooms until browned, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. Cook ramps until bulbs and stems become translucent, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Then add ramp greens, stir to combine and cook 1 additional minute. Remove from heat and set aside.
On a grill pan over medium heat, grill bread until crispy. To assemble, divide ricotta between two toasts and top with mushrooms and ramps.
recipe from Bon Appetit
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
In a medium saucepan, combine milk, cream, and salt. Bring to a gentle boil and remove from heat. Add lemon juice, and stir gently until mixture starts to curdle. Let stand 5 minutes, and prepare a sieve lined with two pieces of cheesecloth. Place the sieve overtop a medium bowl, and pour mixture in. Chill at least 1 hour.