It’s ramp season in WV – Spring!
Suzanne is cultivating ramps on the farm, but most of us have to count on ramp-digging ramp aficionados to sell us these wonderfully stinky wild leeks. It’s common to see hand-lettered signs with the simple word “RAMPS” propped on the windshield of a car or truck alongside two lane roads. Prices may vary a bit, but every sign means plastic baggies stuffed with ramps for sale or ‘bunches’ fastened with rubber bands. If you’re really lucky, they might even have the mud washed away!
Ramp ‘feeds’ used to be held in many locations in April. They still happen in some areas, but the lack of volunteers needed for the intensive work involved in preparing bushels and bushels of ramps for chopping and for cooking ended some of these events. A ramp feed is (usually) an all-you-can-eat meal for one price. The common menu? Soup beans (navy, great northern or pinto), cornbread, fried potatoes with and without chopped ramps, bacon, applesauce, and ramp salad. Homemade desserts and sweet tea to top it off. All of this served family-style in big bowls on the table that miraculously are refilled in the blink of an eye.
Attending ramp feeds led to my love of ramps and cooking them at home. On a smaller scale, preparing and cooking ramps is of course, much simpler than the methods I discovered at ramp feeds. At one local ramp feed, a fire department collects used washing machines that are still functioning to wash, rinse and spin dry armloads of ramps at a time. I can use my sink!
I soak the ramps to loosen the soil clinging to the roots (if they are really muddy, I do this outside in a bucket, first).
Rinse several times until the water is clear.
Cut off the root ends like you would do with green onions.
Parboil the ramps in water for 15 minutes or so until the bulbs are tender.
While the ramps parboil, fry up some bacon (ends and pieces work well).
Drain away most of the bacon grease from the pan, leaving a few spoonfuls behind with the bacon pieces. Drain the ramps well. Add the drained ramps to the pan with the bacon and saute the ramps until they are as tender as you like. The moisture from the ramps will loosen all the yummy bits from the bacon pan. Oh my.
Serve as you would any greens – I love to drizzle apple cider vinegar over mine.
Delicious greens with a garlic and onion flavor. Well sorta. It’s hard to describe but DELICIOUS!
Ramp salad is easy and my true favorite. Just add thinly sliced raw ramps to lettuce and dress lightly with a sweet oil and vinegar dressing. KILLER!
And ummm, yeah I usually eat ramps on Fridays.
When it’s warm enough to open a couple of windows.
When I don’t have to go anywhere all weekend.
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You can also find Dede at Yahoo’s Canning2 Group.
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