Ramps appear at the very beginning of spring. They are one of the first green things to show their heads in the grey, bare forest. Native to North America, ramps grow from South Carolina to Canada, and we follow the season as it moves northward.
The ramp resembles a scallion with a pungent bulb below ground, but could be mistaken for a lily-of-the-valley above ground, with dark green, broad leaves, that grow about six inches tall.
Long appreciated by country folk and eaten as a spring tonic, the ramp has in recent years taken on a mantle of cult status among chefs in fine restaurants. As a result, there are more people enjoying ramps than ever before. Ramps have defied attempts at cultivation, so are only picked in the wild. As an early spring wild edible the motto with ramps is: get them while you can!
Teams of foragers comb the woods, revisit favorite ramp patches, and take care not to over pick in any one area.
Just the facts
- Wild, foraged ramps (Allium tricoccum)
- Seasonally available
- Product of the North America
- 5 lb case
- Keep refrigerated
- For best taste, store in the refrigerator and use within 3-5 days of receipt
Ramps have defied attempts at cultivation, so they are only picked in the wild. Native to North America, ramps grow from South Carolina to Canada, and are often the very first green thing to appear in the dun-colored, winter-weary forest. Ramps are most often found near the banks of streams or rivers, in moist areas that are shaded, and on hillsides. They grow in clumps and spread outward, so are often spotted in large patches of green leaves.
As with all foraged foods, much depends on the weather. Too much sun too soon and the ramp leaves will be sunburned. Cold, wind and moisture all impact the harvest.
There are concerns that ramps may be over-harvested. While that might not be a realistic concern about this tough little forest plant, ramps do take several years to propagate. We work with conscientious foragers who respect the longevity of the ramp patches that they harvest. Ramps take several years to propagate, so care must be taken to preserve the patch.
Since ramps are foraged in the wild, they tend to be dirty, and can carry detritus of the forest. The bulb and roots are always coated in dirt, so they must be heavily rinsed. Cut off the roots as close to the bulb as possible, and run the green leaves under water, being careful to get water into the folds and curls of the leaves.
The leaves and bulbs are both edible, though are often cooked separately, as the bulbs take a bit more time to cook through. Ramps can be eaten raw, as you would a scallion, though they will be much stronger in flavor.
The bulbs offer a potent punch of garlic flavor that is most welcome in soups, eggs, rice or potato dishes. Ramps are wonderful when simply sautéed in bacon fat or duck fat, and get along nicely with eggs.
Whether you sauté ramps as you would onions, or grill them whole, add them to a casserole or gratin or mix them into a cornbread stuffing, the only time to eat them is in early spring. You can freeze cleaned ramps to preserve them for winter cooking, or pickle the bulbs and enjoy throughout the year as a pungent garnish.