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TIP OF THE DAY: Spring Ramps (Wild Leeks)

Ramps, or wild leeks. Photo courtesy
Cherokee-nc.com.

 

Ramps are in season through next month, and they are worth seeking out.

Ramps are wild leeks—also known as spring onion and ramson. In French, they are called ail des bois, garlic of the woods, because of the combined garlic-onion flavor.

They grow wild and are found in clusters. The entire plant is edible, from the broad, smooth, green leaves to the scallion-like bulb.

Since ramps grow wild, they can easily end up in a yard—where they are typically pulled out and thrown away, not only for their unwelcome leaves but for their strong garlic aroma. If you notice a plant by this description, check further—it could go into the kitchen instead of the composter.

While ramps can be enjoyed in any recipe that uses a member of the onion family, we enjoy the easiest and most elegant preparation: simply sautéed. Combine ramps with asparagus for a heavenly spring feast. Toss thin slices into a salad, add them to eggs, look for recipes on line. You’ll love this “discovery” and will eagerly await spring ramps going forward.

While many people refer to the vegetable as “wild leek,” the name “ramp” is popular in the East. It comes from England. One version of the name source attributes a folk name, “ramsen,” the plural form of hramsa, an Old English word for wild garlic. Early English settlers of Appalachia—a prime ramp region—used the term, which later was shortened to “ramp.”





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