In my opinion, nothing rivals the thrill of finding deep green colored wild ramps after a long, cold, gray winter. Especially after these West Virginia winters that seem to last for months on end.
I fell in love with ramps years ago when I was a kid and my family ventured around to various ramp festivals across the state, before I even knew where to dig them out of the ground. Not only are they tasty, they are a beautiful plant. Strong but slender with deep green leaves, a beautiful purple stem and seam that runs up the leaves.
Maybe you’re not familiar with the ramp? If not, please allow me to introduce you. Their Latin name is allium tricoccum but they’re more commonly known as ramps, spring onions, ramsons, wild leeks, and wild garlic.
Ramps are perennials and grow in groups with their onion-like bulbs firmly rooted beneath the soil. They favor sandy, moist soils and are often found near streams though you might also find them coating the entire forest floor where beech, birch, poplar and/or sugar maple trees are found.
If you spot some plants that you think fit this bill, you can test your identification by tearing off a leaf and giving it a sniff — it should smell strongly of onion or garlic. Once you smell a ramp, you will have no doubt that you just smelled a ramp.
If you find your own ramp patch and want to harvest them, be sure to keep the plants you’ve harvested cool and moist while you dig.
Once you’ve finished your harvest, take them home and clean them up.
Peel off the papery skin, use cold water to wash off the dirt, and use a sharp knife to remove the roots, leaving the entire bulb intact. Dry them carefully with a towel to remove all the water, then bundle them together to help retain moisture and store in the refrigerator. They will produce a strong odor in your refrigerator, so I would suggest that you don’t leave them in there for too long.
And just when you thought things could not possibly get any more fun, it’s time to decide what to cook with them! There are a plethora of options. Although you can eat them raw, keep in mind that they are a bit intense — if you don’t like raw onions, scallions or garlic, you’re not going to like raw ramps. But their strong, garlicky flavor is enhanced by cooking – it becomes mellower, sweeter, and oh so delicious.
Ramps are excellent grilled, sauteed, roasted, pickled, pestoed and in risotto and eggs. If you’re not feeling super adventurous, one basic rule of thumb is that you can use ramps for anything you would normally use onions or garlic. If you don’t live in an area where ramps grow wild and you have not seen them in a store near you, you can order wild ramps directly from us here at Wild West Virginia Ramps.
We also have several Ramp Recipes to choose from, with more being added regularly.
Good Treats and Happy Eats!