Have you ever heard of ramps? Probably not, if like me, you live west of Minnesota. Those of you Easterners are likely well familiar with them. Also known as wild leeks or ramsons, ramps are one of the first delicacies of spring. They grow in the woodlands east of the Great Plains — and often in huge swaths.

Ramps are gathered by professional foragers each spring and make their way to any number of local food festivals. These days ramps are trendy; you can find them on white-linen menus from New York to San Francisco.

My friend Hank brought some ramps over for us to play with the other day; as a Jersey boy, he is well acquainted with them. According to Hank, you use ramps like green onions or young spring garlic. Ramps taste a lot like green garlic, though more subtle in their garlicky flavor.

They can be eaten raw, but are best sautéed, roasted, grilled, pickled or made into pesto. The spearpoint-shaped upper leaves, unusually wide for a member of the onion family, are tender and are often separated from the stouter stalk and miniature bulb.

Have a favorite ramp recipe? Please let us know about it in the comments. Also check out these great ramp recipes from fellow food bloggers:

If you live West of Minnesota and want to try ramps, the only way to get them is to have them shipped in. They are available online from late March through the spring. You can order them at Earthy Delights.

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Showing 4 of 15 Comments

  • kaela

    Actually my favorite way to eat them is raw in salads, but yes, ramps are wonderful in many different ways! Always love ramp season. I just did a round-up post on my blog with lots of ramp info:

    So yummy. Sweet & sour ramps is intriguing – I’ll have to check it out.

  • agnespterrry

    Heh. I remember when we lived in West Virginia when I was a kid, ramps were really really popular. Mom decided to try them out since we’d never had them before coming from California. 0.o (Never again, for me, sorry: they tasted rank! Maybe as an adult I’d appreciate them more, but I kind of doubt it.) However I remember staring at them as Mom dished them up and wondering if she truly actually intended for us to EAT them. (She’s never purchased them again.)

    Oh, and they turn your urine green, so beware . . .

    So there’s my limited experience with ramps. Mom ended up finishing it all. I was very impressed by that as I recall.

  • SunnySouthTexas

    There are actual festivals to the lowly ramp in West Virginia … I remember visiting a girlfriend in my early-twenties or maybe late-teens and going to the Ramp Festival …

    Their flavor is a cross between onion and garlic – kinda like a blend of the two … Mmmmmm; very tasty!

  • Jonell Galloway

    I think ramp is very similar to what we call wild garlic leaves in Europe. In French you call it “ail des ours”, because apparently it is the first green leaves the bears (“ours”) can eat when they come out of hibernation.

    I posted a recipe last week that worked quite well, using it with smashed potatoes.

    Nice post.

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