Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Photo Collage - Ramps

Robert has been putting together some photo collages with the extensive library of photographs he has taken over the last few years. In April, we look forward to the ramps (Allium tricoccum) poking up their leaves through the forest floor. Ramps are fairly common here in southeastern Connecticut, and we gather the leaves from several large patches. We don't usually bother to dig the bulbs, since that will kill the entire plant and ramps are slow to reproduce. Four years ago, we transplanted 12 bulbs into a patch of dirt outside our back door, and today 12 plants still come up. The bulbs have not yet divided to produce new plants, and all of our attempts to germinate ramps from seeds have failed.

It is the green leaves that we do almost all of our cooking with. They are tender and easy to cut into thin slices for recipes, and sometimes large enough to stuff like cabbage leaves. The flavor of ramps is a funky onion and garlic blend. We add them to biscuit and bagel recipes, soups, any mixed vegetable stir-fry, and make a pungent pesto from the raw leaves. I mixed some chopped leaves into softened cream cheese to spread over toast in the morning with a side of scrambled eggs and sauteed ramps.Our spring favorite is a Chinese-style pancake filled with ramps. The chopped greens store well in the freezer if packed tightly into a container, and we have successfully dehydrated and powdered the leaves to add to pasta dough.


Teresa said...

Thanks for not digging up the bulbs. I've heard that the Cherokee only took the top 1/3 of the leaves, so they could keep harvesting over the years.

I'm the Conservation Agent in my town, and I always keep the location of ramps and wild ginger secret because I'm afraid that people will go dig them up.

I also tried transplanting some bulbs last year and scattered some seeds on other open space properties as well as on my property. The bulbs did come up again this spring. They seem to grow in areas that are almost but not quite wetlands, so that's where I put them.

mason said...

These are quite the invaders where I live. They are all over the ground.

The 3 Foragers said...

Ramps are a native species and belong here in the United States. They are only considered endangered in some areas of eastern Canada and northern New York due to overharvest.

You are quite lucky to have so many in your area, Mason. They are slow to propagate and spread, so a carpet of ramps in the forest is a wonderful sight!

Trout Caviar said...

I can't believe I never thought of using ramps in Chinese oily scallion cakes--"cong you bing" was one of my favorite street snacks when I taught English in Sichuan province, 1989-90. I am absolutely stealing this idea for my blog (with due credit, of course!). In our area--MN, WI--we're also fortunate to have abundant ramp "crops". I read cautions to not harvest more than 10% of a patch, but my mind boggles at the thought of taking even 1%, there are so many.

Happy foraging, and thanks for the inspiration~ Brett

The 3 Foragers said...

Brett, we did have the recipe too,

I pulled it off of Serious Eats, a site about food, and they have some more precise photos on how to rollout the snails and pancakes there. I wish we photographed the process, it is cumbersome to describe.

Trout Caviar said...

I learned to make scallion cakes from an old favorite cookbook, "Mrs Chiang's Szechwan Cookbook." While it's not as authentically sourced as, say, Fuchsia Dunlop's very fine "Land of Plenty," it's still an excellent resource, and quite accessible.

Re your failures at trying to grow ramps from seed, this article has some insights:

Cheers~ Brett

The 3 Foragers said...

Great article, Brett. We have only had success is transplanting some ramps plants so far. Just today, Robert accidentally pulled up a teeny-tiny ramp still attached to its seed, so we do have proof that the seeds are viable!