At their prime, ramps bulbs have a taste between garlic and onion. Add one or two of these pickled ramps bulbs on the side of a serving of roasted meat for a flavor bomb. Proportions are for about a half pint but can be modified as required.
Ramps bulbs, about 1 c after trimming
3/8 c rice vinegar (unsweetened)
3/8 c water
2 T sugar
1/2 t salt
1 T pickling spice mixture
1 bay leaf
a few flakes dried red pepper
Method: trim any roots from the bulbs and cut them just below the green part of the leaves. (Reserve the leaves for bonus ramps pesto.) Wash thoroughly and transfer to a heat-resistant canning jar. Bring all other ingredients to the boil and pour over ramps in the jar. If needed, top off with equal amounts of vinegar and water till ramps are submerged. Refrigerate at least a week (or put up in vacuum method) and enjoy. Keeps at least a month in refrigerator.
Bonus Ramps Pesto recipe: trim ramps leaves, discarding any wilted or yellow ones. Cut the rest into 1-inch pieces and process in a food processor with 2 T parmesan cheese, 2 T olive oil, 1 T pine nuts and 1/2 t salt. Makes a couple of servings used like regular pesto over pasta.
Wild springtime ramps are one of the benefits of living in the northeast. They make their appearance around May 1, and prefer wooded, moist areas near bodies of water. I always feel guilty pulling them up, plus I have not had great luck finding in the wild, so I buy mine at the farmer’s market. If you do harvest them wild, use a pair of scissors and cut above the roots to give the plants a better chance of coming back. (My friend Kate H tells me that is how they do it in Austria.)
Note: turns out I did another pickled ramps recipe awhile back, using the entire plant. But this one is definitely better for late season when the tops aren’t in top condition.