An introduction to ramps, also known as wild leeks or ransoms, a lot like green onions but with a mildly garlic flavor.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

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.

If you make this recipe, snap a pic and hashtag it #simplyrecipes — We love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, & Twitter!

Showing 4 of 18 Comments

  • Jack

    I am fortunate enough to have ramps in my woods here in Michigan. My first experience cooking with them is still the best. I wrap large sea scallops with a strip of procuitto and a large ramp leaf, secure with toothpicks, and pan sear in butter until the scallops are done.

  • Doris Myers

    We will get up some bacon and remove the bacon and cool down the grease and then add the team’s that have been cut up read the bacon and 1/2 cup of vintage and 1/2 cup water salt and pepper to taste and we will add some ramps to fried potatoes and we headed them to eggs also

  • 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!

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