If you have never heard of wild ramps before, then you have been missing out! Also know as wild leeks, they are popular spring edible throughout Appalachia with a cult-like following. I’ve put together a list of the best recipes using ramps to inspire you to enjoy them in your kitchen!
What are Wild Ramps
Wild Ramps are a member of the onion family: Allium tricoccum is a North American species of wild onion widespread across eastern Canada and the eastern United States. Many of the common English names for this plant are also used for other Allium species, particularly the similar Allium ursinum, which is native to Europe and Asia. They are also know as Wild Leeks. They are found in the spring in wooded areas with damp ground.
How to Pick Wild Ramps
Let me start by saying that there are generally 2 opinions when it comes to harvesting wild ramps; digging up the whole plant (including the underground bulb) or ONLY harvesting 1-2 leaves from each plant.
The best practices when harvesting ramps depends on the location where you are picking them. There is no universal one-size-fits-all rule.
With their recent popularity, some areas are seeing over harvesting of ramps which has caused the need for very selective and cautious harvesting in order to retain their sustainability in that area. This requires ramp pickers to leave the bulbs in the ground and only take a 1-2 leaves, to ensure that the ramp plant can reach maturity and drop it’s seeds, continuing it’s life cycle.
However, there are MANY areas where ramps are still growing in abundance and dare I say, even considered an invasive species. In those areas, such as ours, we are able to harvest the entire plant without a risk of damaging the ramp population.
If you don’t have a ramp patch to harvest your own, don’t worry! You can often find a bunch of ramps at your local farmers market or higher end grocery during the spring months thanks to many foragers sharing their bounty!
How to Clean Wild Ramps
Cleaning whole wild leeks is no different than cleaning any other freshly picked bulb like an onion or shallot. You’ll want to rinse off the dirt, try using a garden hose to get some good water pressure the mud, dirt and outter skin will come off easily. Then trim the roots and give them a final rinse in the sink.
To clean ramp leaves, treat them as you would any green like spinach, kale or lettuce. Rinse in cool water then spin dry in a salad spinner.
How to Store Wild Ramps
Perhaps a better heading to this section is, “how to store ramps in your refrigerator so that they don’t completely stink up everything.” because it’s a really awful thing when that happens and what most often people are dealing with.
There are 3 ways that we store ramps; Whole Ramps, Ramp Bulbs and Ramp green leaves.
We store whole cleaned ramps and ramp greens the same way; in a vegetable storage container. We’ve found that they keep very well for 1-2 weeks.
As for cleaned and cut ramp bulbs, they tend to be the most ‘stinky’ therefore they are best stored in an air tight container IN WATER.
How to eat Wild Ramps
Ramps can be eaten both raw as well as cooked. The whole plant, just like an onion, is edible and delicious, with the most pungent flavor in the largest bulbs.
And we’re finally at the part of the post that you probably came to read, right?!?! I’ve gathered all the best recipes using ramps and put them together in one easy to find post.
Best Ramp Recipes for Breakfast
Although notoriously pungently flavored, ramps are delicious for breakfast too! Easily cooked in a scrambled egg or sauté in hash brown potatoes.
Best Ramp Appetizer & Snack Recipes
Best Ramp Salad Dressing Recipes
Best Ramp Side Dish Recipes
Best Ramp Soup Recipes
Best Ramp Main Dish Recipes
Wild Ramp FAQs
Let me be honest with you when I say that wild ramps are a very pungent member of the onion family. Many remark them as a combination of garlic and onion only stronger than both.
Instead of ramps in most recipes a good substitute is a combination of green onion and garlic. You can also use wild onion or wild garlic too.
Ramps are most often available starting down south in early April, May and in some northern places, June. You can find them at the same time as asparagus, radishes, spring onions, etc.
The entire ramp plant, minus the roots, are edible. Both the underground bulb as well as the tender leaves.
No, wild garlic is not the same as wild ramps.
One last thing before you go, I’m going to be continuing to update this post over the next few weeks (May 2022) so there are a few recipes you may be looking for but haven’t been included yet – like pickled ramps, ramp pesto, ramp compound butter, etc … don’t worry they will be added very soon, too!!