26 May 2011

Pickled Ramps

Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are a treat only available for a few weeks in the early spring. They are native to Appalachia and through the upper Midwest into southern Canada. A number of places in the mountains have ramp festivals every spring. The reason ramps are so celebrated is that they are traditionally the first vegetable to grow each year. In the old days people were so happy to get their first fresh vegetable after a season of dried or canned ones.

I am trying to grow a ramp patch at the farm, but it is rather puny so far. Once I get to move up there, I’m sure I can nurture it into expanding and providing a good supply of them for us. In the meanwhile, I typically order some fresh ramps when they are in season.

Ramps can be substituted in many recipes that use onions. Although they are also called wild leeks, they are much stronger than cultivated leeks. Since I first got interested in them, I’ve been collecting recipes that specifically call for ramps. One of those is this recipe for Pickled Ramps in Momofuku, the cookbook from David Chang of Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City.

There the pickled ramps are used to make a Ramp Ranch Dressing, but you can use them just about any way you would use other pickles. I like to mince some of the leaves and add to tuna or egg salad, for instance. Or I serve the bulbs on a pickle tray along side other pickled vegetables.

For the brine I used water, rice vinegar, sugar, kosher salt and shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice mix):

And here are the pound of ramps with lots of roots still attached:

Ramp bulbs in one jar, tops in another and the pickling brine ready to add:

Ramps in brine:

Ramp greens in brine:

Jars cooling before going in the fridge:

Watch coming posts for the Ramp Ranch Dressing. And just so you know, next year I am going to try Tom Colicchio's recipe for Sweet Pickled Ramps from Think Like a Chef.

Momofuku Pickled Ramps
adapted from Momofuku

3 cups water
1½ cups rice wine vinegar
1 cup white sugar
2½ Tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp shichimi togarashi (Japanese 7-spice mix)
1 lb ramps

Mix the water, vinegar, sugar, salt and shichimi togarashi in a saucepan. Bring to a full boil to dissolve sugar. Alternatively put the ingredients in a large glass measuring cup and heat to boiling in microwave.

Clean ramps. Use a paring knife to trim the root, then peel the outer layer of skin and wash well.

Place cleaned ramps into a glass jar or a lidded plastic container (one that is safe for heating) and pour boiling liquid over them. Weigh down so that ramps are completely submerged. Let cool to room temperature, then store covered in refrigerator for about a week.

1. Very young ramps with small leaves may be pickled whole. As the ramps get larger later in the season, trim the top of the ramp leaf, leaving about an inch of green. Tops should be saved for other uses (such as stock or pasta).
2. Pickled ramps can be stored in the refrigerator, or they can be canned for later use. Ramp greens should be used first (within a month) as they will go softer more quickly. Ramp bulbs will last in the refrigerator for several months.
3. This recipe made about a quart jar of pickled ramp bulbs and a half gallon jar of pickled ramp tops.

Thanks so much for stopping by today!

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Annie @ From the Bookshelf said...

Can I just say OH YUM!

Ces said...

Gosh, I want to live in your home. You prepare great food, served on beautiful dishes!!!

Becky said...

Why, thank you ladies. Please come on over anytime!