Learning About Ramps

I’m New To Ramps. What Are They?

Ramps are nourishing harbingers of spring, breaking through lingering snow and ice. A foraged delicacy, their leaves, stalk and bulb are edible. They are sweetish with a slight pungency. A perennial wild onion with a pungent garlic odor with leek/onion flavor, it is found in Eastern North America from South Carolina to Canada. Also known as wild leek, wood leek, spring onion, wild garlic.

The plant has broad smooth light green 10” long leaves often with a hint of deep purple or burgundy on the lower stems. It has a scallion like stalk producing a flower and the bulb measures half an inch round. Plant leaves wither as the seed stalk develops, flowering in June-July. The preferred habitat is sandy, loamy moist soil under the woodlands canopy. Growing in dense colonies they can be found near streams and under trees. (Beech, Sugar Maple, Birch, Poplar, Hickory, Oak, Linden and Buckeye).

Raw or cooked in soups, pesto, accompanying egg dishes and sauteed with seasonal foraged wild greens, morels and April’s Shad harvest. After winter months with few fresh greens available this ingredient brings forth earthy flavors and revitalizes the palate. Thoreau referred to eating ramps as a “tonic of the wilderness.”

Ramps have been embraced by the Appalachian Mountain region. West Virginia is considered the heart of ramp country, where one will find numerous festivals celebrating the harvest.

What About That Name?

In Old English, the plant (although a slightly different one, since the ramp you’re likely to run into in the U.S. is a different species of wild leek) was a hramsa, which is similar to the word in Old German (ramese), which led to similar words in all the Scandinavian languages. And in Old English, when you wanted to pluralize some words, you didn’t add -s, you added -en. That formation isn’t productive anymore (nobody’s going around talking about “laptopen” and “iPaden”), but it’s how we got words like “oxen” and “children.” So hramsa turned into hramsen, which then led to the same plant being called both “rams” and “ramson,” with a double-plural “ramsons” thrown in sometimes for good measure.

Then, just for ease of pronunciation, people started popping a “p” in there, making “ramps.” This happens sometimes (we added an “n” to “passenger” and “messenger” from the French passager and messager, just because we felt like it), and probably just came from generations of little kids deciding that “ramps” was easier to say than “rams” (next up: spaghetti-pasketti). But, like “ramson” and “ramsons” before it, somewhere along the way we forgot that “rams” was actually the singular, and started calling a lonely “ramps” a “ramp.”

Interesting! Where Can I Buy Some?

Click Here To Go To The Order Page

 

Clump Of Ramps

Larger Ramps Are Now Available 4-9-2018

I know a lot of you guys are waiting for larger ramps and now is the time to order those. They have several inches of green leaves on them and will be growing quickly this week. If you want larger ramps and you order now, your order will be shipped on 4-16-2018.

Click Here To Go To The Order Page

Ramp Feasting In West Virginia

I found this article from a 1985 edition of The New York Times. What a great read!

Come April in West Virginia everyone looks to the hills. For some, red-bud, dogwood and the first tinge of tender green are the attraction. For others the pleasure is gustatory. They know that spring in the Appalachians is ramp season.

The ramp, otherwise known as wild leek or Allium tricoccum, is a member of the lily family. With broad, pointed leaves it looks much like a lily of the valley, though it has a stem and bulb more like a scallion, another member of the lily family. Like a scallion, one of its characteristics is a strong odor. In fact, odor is probably the most noticeable thing about the ramp. In pungency and power of penetration it surpasses even those other members of the lily family, onions, leeks and garlic.

Once the roots have been cut off, no amount of plastic wrapping, not even a styrofoam cooler, can contain the smell. In Richwood, W. Va., the self- proclaimed Ramp Capital of the World, Jim Comstock, publisher of the local newspaper, The West Virginia Hillbilly, once mixed ramp juice with the ink for his press to publicize the town’s ramp feast. Local lore has it that postal workers fell ill from the smell of the papers they had to handle.

As for the taste, raw ramps are not recommended, except to the stout hearted or to someone who may suffer from sinus congestion. Cooked ramps, on the other hand, can be delicious, rather like spinach or kale prepared with garlic. But there is no denying that even cooked ramps are potent. If you have difficulty with greens, garlic or onions, you had best proceed with caution when it comes to ramps.

Otherwise, the traditional dinner is not an occasion for restraint. According to Hyer Sutton, the mayor of Richwood, some former West Virginians ”get so wrapped up in ramps” that they plan their vacations around the event, coming to Richwood from as far away as Hawaii, New Jersey and Texas. Some ramp fans drive up from Florida for the weekend and down from Ohio for the day for all-you-can- eat dinners that are served from 11 A.M. to about 5 P.M. The meals usually include such traditional West Virginia fare as ham, sausage, cornbread, beans, potatoes, cake and coffee or sassafras tea. Dinner tickets cost about $5, which is one reason for the popularity of the event.

Another reason is purely social. It’s not often that residents have occasion to celebrate in this area of West Virginia, for times are generally tough economically, but that does not dampen the spirits of ramp eaters. At some feasts – in Eleanor and Clay, for instance – food remains the focus of the event. At others, festivities have been extended. Richwood begins its annual feast day at 10 A.M. with a 10-kilometer race. Running those 6.25 miles is one way to work up an appetite. For the rest of the day, while dinners are being served, handcrafts are sold at a bazaar and country musicians provide street entertainment.

Other states also hold ramp festivals. Some are on a larger scale, such as the one in Cosby, Tenn., which attracts up to 60,000 participants, and some are much smaller, such as the one in Alfred, N. Y., which involves only the 300 or so members of the community. But nowhere else is the ramp tradition more firmly rooted than in Richwood, the headquarters of the National Ramp Association. Ramp feasting as an event began about 1921 when some Richwood men met for a cookout during ramp season. Eventually their gathering moved indoors and came under the jurisdiction of the Chamber of Commerce. The success of the Richwood event inspired other communities to start their own dinners, usually as a way of raising money for a local organization.

The custom of eating ramps may have begun with early English immigrants. They were were probably familiar with similar wild plants in Britain, such as the rampion (a bellflower with an edible root) or the ramson (a variety of garlic). Whether the settlers discovered them on their own or were introduced to them by the Indians, as some say, ramps must have provided a welcome change from their winter diet of salted meat and dried corn and beans. Ramps, which contain vitamins C and A, were also valued for their tonic effect.

Though they once flourished throughout the Eastern mountain regions and in parts of the Midwest, ramps have slowly retreated over the years to the more remote, higher elevations in the Appalachian Mountains. Even within West Virginia, ramps grow in abundance only in the cooler climate and richer soil of the area around Richwood, especially in Monongahela National Forest. There before the trees have leafed out, they form a carpet of green.

Late March or early April is usually the beginning of the season, when the plants have reached a height of about 8 to 10 inches. By May the leaves are too tough and the flavor too strong for even the most die-hard ramp eater. Digging ramps involves some skill and requires fortitude, because spring in the mountains can be cold and damp. The ramps must be carefully pried out with the roots intact. Keeping next year’s crop in mind, the experienced digger tries to thin a good patch rather than eradicate it, so the plants will grow back bigger and better the following spring.

Not all visitors will have the opportunity or the desire to dig their own ramps, but those who attend a ramp dinner will usually be able to buy some at the door, for anywhere from $1.50 to $3 a pound. The plants will keep for three to four days in a cooler or a refrigerator. They should be washed thoroughly and the roots sliced off before using. Then they can be cooked whole or chopped, green parts and all.

West Virginians generally prefer to prepare their ramps by parboiling them whole, draining them, frying them in bacon grease and adding a scrambled egg, crumbled cooked bacon and a sprinkling of vinegar. Some Richwooders have developed more elaborate recipes for such things as macaroni and cheese with ramps, ramp pie and ramp salad. Basically, ramps can be substituted with discretion in almost any recipe calling for leeks or scallions. They can also be cooked, then canned in vinegar or frozen.

After indulging in ramps, one question often arises: Is there any way to combat ramp breath? Suggestions for antidotes include eating a banana or sucking a clove or a lemon, but nothing is entirely effective. If you have an important date in the evening, the only foolproof tactic is abstention.

The First Ramp Orders Of 2018

Can winter be over already? I’m tired of storm after storm leaving so much snow in its wake. It’s almost April, and it’s already spring. It’s time for a little bit of warmth and sunshine. Who’s with me?

We are currently taking order for the first ramp shipment of 2018. The first orders will ship out on 4-2-2018. Order now if you want to be included in that group. Please note that these are SMALL ramps. There will be very little green and some ramps may have no green at all. If you want bigger ramps, you will have to wait a couple more weeks.

You can find the ramp order page here:
http://wildwestvirginiaramps.com/product-category/fresh-ramps/

Ramp Bulbs Are Back In Stock

Just a quick note to those of you that have been waiting on ramp bulbs to be available again. They’re now back in stock! (1-10-2018)

http://wildwestvirginiaramps.com/product-category/ramp-bulbs/

 

 

Black Friday Ramp Bulb Sale

Wild West Virginia Ramps is having a Black Friday sale from 9am (11/24/17) through midnight on 11/25/17. All ramp bulbs are discounted 25% and the prices listed on the site include shipping.

http://wildwestvirginiaramps.com/product-category/ramp-bulbs/

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ramp Bulb Sale With A 20% Off Coupon

Hi Everyone!

I just want to pass along a quick note about our current sale. As a thank you for the business over the course of this year, we are offering 20% off ramp bulbs when you use this coupon code – thanks2017.

Add the ramp bulbs to your shopping cart like you normally would, and enter the coupon code during checkout.

http://wildwestvirginiaramps.com/product-category/ramp-bulbs/

Ramp Bulbs Are Back In Stock And On Sale

We ran out of ramp bulbs for a little while, but we have some more in stock right now. I’ve also put them on sale for a day or two to make up for the stock shortage.

« Older posts
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!