Like asparagus and rhubarb, ramps are heralded as one of the first harbingers of spring, best served when winter’s chill is becoming a memory. Also known as wild leeks, ramps are high in vitamins A and C and boast an intense garlic-onion flavor and pungent, woodsy aroma that we can't get enough of. They have a very brief season -- when they’re gone, they’re gone -- so now is the time to be a little greedy! Here’s everything you need to know, plus our favorite recipes showcasing ramps.
Ramps mostly grow wild, so their season is short. Look for them in your market from late March to mid-May.
What to Look For
Picked wild, ramps are then rinsed and shipped to markets; they aren’t hydro-cooled (sprayed before shipping with near-freezing water) like most vegetables, so their shelf life is only a few days. Choose ramps with lustrous, firm bulbs and green, fresh-looking leaves. Avoid any with yellow, limp leaves or dull-looking, discolored bulbs. It’s fine if they’re a little dirty -- they’re wild, after all -- so just rinse the dirt off at home.
How to Store
Ramps will stay fresh in your refrigerator for three to four days. Try wrapping them in newsprint -- better yet, seal them in several plastic bags, unless you want everything in your refrigerator to taste like ramps. They can also be chopped, put in an airtight container, and kept in the freezer for up to a year.
How to Prep
When you are ready to cook them, clean the ramps well, trim the ends, and strip off the outer layer as you would with a scallion.
5 Delicious Ways to Eat Ramps
1. Ramp Pesto
2. Creamy Ramp and Barley Soup
Ramps give this light spring soup its beautiful verdant color, not to mention its deep flavor. Pureeing half makes it nice and creamy with just the right amount of texture.
3. Pickled Ramps
The best way to make ramp season last longer? Pickle them! Our flavorful brine calls for white-wine vinegar, fresh thyme, and a host of spices -- coriander, fennel, black peppercorns, and red-pepper flakes.
4. Pappardelle with Rabbit, Ramps, and Wild Garlic
You can also use chicken in this simple pasta dish, but we say be adventurous -- go for the rabbit! It gets super tender when braised and pairs well with the ramps and wild garlic.
5. Grilled Ramps with Asparagus
Combine ramps with another early spring ingredient, asparagus, toss with a little olive oil, and give them a quick turn on the grill. The resulting perfectly charred veg are equally delectable hot or at room temperature.
Watch our Kitchen Conundrums expert, Thomas Joseph grill ramps: