By Sarah W.
During the past few months more people have become interested in wild foods, and Allium tricoccum or Ramps are some of the best.
One of the earliest wild spring edibles, they grow in moist semi-shaded areas all over the eastern U.S. and they are up in our woods now. They’re also known as wild leek, spring onion, wild garlic and ramson. Some folks also call them the ‘king of stink’ because the fragrance seems to exude from your pores for quite a while after eating them. How perfect for social distancing!
Ramps have recently become a bit too popular with upscale chefs, resulting in over-harvesting to the point of being endangered in some areas. So here are some guidelines for sustainable harvesting:
- Only harvest from a very large patch
- Cut only the leaves and/or dig the whole plant from scattered areas in the patch
- Never harvest more than one tenth of a patch, and even less is better
When I’m done harvesting, I want it to appear that I haven’t even been there.
I first heard about ramps when I lived in West Virginia. As I remember it, the ramps there are quite a bit stronger tasting than those around here. In Appalachia, many towns have ramp festivals in the spring. I wonder what will happen this year. Can you have a virtual ramp feed?
You can cook ramps with almost anything but–so far–I haven’t heard of ramp ice cream (thank goodness).
Before you harvest, make sure you have a positive ID because there are plants that look somewhat similar.