It's this time of year when ramps begin to poke their lovely greenness up from the ground in parks and forests. They are a wild onion native to North America and are kind of like a cross between an onion and a leek with a strong garlic aroma.
If you are fortunate to stumble across a monster batch of them like the one in the photo above always remember not to be greedy. Take only a small amount as they will not grow back and quantities of wild ramps are diminishing due to over foraging. They should be sustainably picked to ensure the return of the crop the following season.
These little babies make the most amazing pickles which can be used on burgers, cheese plates, chopped up into salads and so much more. Their brine can be added to a small amount of olive oil to make salad dressing. Nothing goes to waste. Which is something that makes me very happy.
But what I have learned over the years of pickling ramps is that not all of it likes to be pickled. And what I mean by that is the green leafy part can turn brown and mushy when preserved in a vinegar brine. I choose to clean my ramps up, cut this part off and turn it into a ramp pesto.
One of my favourite pickled ramp recipes is based on a recipe found on Front Door Organics site. I just made them spicier and determined that all of their optional spices in my opinion were required.
Spicy Pickled Ramps
2 1/4 cups pickling vinegar
2 1/4 cups water (distilled if available)
2 cloves of garlic, slivered
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 cup pickling salt
1 tsp dill
1/4 tsp whole allspice
1/4 tsp cumin
Combine all the ingredients except the ramps in a non reactive pot over medium high heat. Bring to a boil stirring to dissolve the salt completely. Turn off the heat and remove the pan.
Pack the cleaned and trimmed ramp bulbs into hot and previously sterilized jars. Fill with the vinegar solution leaving 1/2" headspace. Be sure to burp your jars and then remeasure the headspace. The wipe the rims and place lids on jars.
Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
Yields: approximately 5-250ml jars.