Yesterday we made our annual trip to the North Carolina mountains to obtain another year’s supply of ramps, known in various parts of the world as ramson, wild leeks, wild garlic etc. It is a 3 hour drive each way but well worth it. The change of scenery is refreshing. We couldn’t help but notice the smell of polluted air when we passed through urban areas on the way back home. Yuk! Glad we don’t live there!
We always purchase ramps from Bonnie’s Produce, a fruit and vegetable stand in a small shack by the side of the road. On this trip we found an additional source for ramps but we will always go back to Bonnie’s just because we like them – friendly people with a down home sense of humor and an appreciation for the simple things.
The second photo is from Google Earth street view.
In this part of the world ramps are not available in conventional grocery stores. Either you dig them yourself if you happen to own wooded property in the mountains or you purchase them on the side of the road out of the back of a pickup truck or a produce stand. I used to get them from a coworker who every year went back to his old stomping grounds in the mountains of West Virginia to dig them. That was until he left the company and I retired.
I get the impression that ramson/wild garlic is more readily available for purchase in some European countries, and I imagine they are cleaned up and pristine looking when sold in stores (please correct me if I am wrong). They have always come into my possession covered with soil just as they were when foraged from the woods. It took part of last evening and much of today to clean up and process this year’s ramson purchase.
Ramps don’t have a long shelf (or refrigerator) life but they dry and freeze well. In past years, for long term preservation, I dried all of the ones I wasn’t unable to immediately consume, but last year I froze the white bulbs and red stems and dehydrated only the green leaves. This year I did the same except I used the freshest of the leaves to make and freeze pesto.
Freezing veggies or fruits in a single layer on a tray before vacuum bagging gets the best results. I froze some of the bulbs and stems whole and the rest chopped to save space.
The pesto I made (and froze) from this year’s ramps was made with roasted cashews, roasted sunflower seeds, olive oil, lime juice, kosher salt, white wine vinegar and , of course, ramps (green parts).
Breakfast this morning featured ramps. In Faye’s words, “It was ‘rampy’.” That was not to say it wasn’t liked. She has come to accept ramps as a legitimate food item.
Scrubbed and diced russet potatoes were tossed in pesto made with ramp leaves, toasted cashews, olive oil, lime juice and kosher salt. The potatoes were cooked in the Cuisinart Oven Central with top and bottom heat.
Chopped ramps (white and red parts) and jalapeño were sautéed and added to beaten eggs.
The intent was to add the potatoes back in before the eggs had set, but too late for that. They just kind of rolled around on top. It’s all the same.
Despite all that has been said regarding the intense odor of ramps, I am certain that while chopping ramps I could smell the blackberry bread I had purchased yesterday and which was secured airtight in the refrigerator. Faye said it was calling my name. I answered that call.