Ramping (is that a word?)
When the garlic is almost knee-high, the chives thick and lush and the grass in need of it’s first cutting, you know the ramps are ripe for picking. These wild leeks are one of nature’s many nutritious and delicious gifts. And while foraging is exciting and rewarding at every season, after a long, cold and grueling winter, this first excursion of spring is my most anticipated and favorite. Making it even better, it is an annual tradition I share with friend and sustainable food guru, Mariana.
Ramping – foraging for ramps – is top secret business. While I can’t disclose our location, I can tell you that our favorite patch is not far into the woods, where the crossing is thick with pricklers and poison ivy, but worth every itch and scratch.
Ramps have an intricate root network and regenerate year after year, but to be truly sustainable, it’s important not to harvest more than 10% of your patch. We barely scratch the surface, in this regard. Even so, we tread lightly, take conservatively, eat only a few as we work (which is immediately evident by anyone who comes near!), and return home with their pungent aroma filling the car and soon the kitchen.
One step into the house and one inhalation, anyone could tell that I’d been ramping. And yet, once washed and dried, these wild leeks will last for weeks in the refrigerator if wrapped in a damp cloth and then placed in a plastic bag. And then…sky’s the limit. On this year’s agenda: grilled ramps, fermented ramps, ramp frittata (which we had for dinner last night), and one of my favorite preparations, ramp pesto! If you’ve never had ramps, you’re in for a treat. And if you’re experienced with ramps, we all hope you’ll share your favorite preparations here…as a little bit of inspiration goes a long way to help us all…
…eat clean and live well!