Our ramp season is over around here, so I thought I would pass on some of the various ways I’ve used to preserve the ramps for use during the winter months. Traditionally, if you are fortunate enough to have morels, the best eating is fresh ramps, diced potatoes and morels all fired up in a cast iron skillet. However, you can freeze the ramps, make pesto, pickle the bulbs, make a ramp powder, and, if so inclined, make a batch of ramp kimchi.
Ed made his pesto and put it up in jars. I made mine and froze them in a muffin tin and then vacuum sealed them in quantities that would make a pasta meal for 2-3 people depending on their appetite. I used a variation of recipe from the internet, but substituted preserved lemons for the salt and lemon zest/juice. Preserved lemons are are a Mediterranean substitute for vinegar as a way to add sourness without the use of vinegar, which is made from wine, for religious reasons. Lemons are partially cut into quarters and then brined.
Another way to preserve is vacuum sealing the entire ramps. I have found they still work well several years after freezing – especially if you are using a recipe that calls for chopped whole ramps.
Pickling the bulbs is always a great option. I use a pickling spice mix that I buy when I’m in a large store, such as the DeKalb Farmers Market in Atlanta. Also, I water bath can them so they will have longer shelf life than simply taking up space in the frig.
After you pickle the bulbs, making a powder from the leaves is great. I also always bring back a bag of leaves from the ramp patch specifically to dry and grind. I use my food dehydrator and then grind the dried leaves in a spice grinder. I also like to dry a few bulbs and the purplish stems to make a coarser powder. The leaf powder works as a “finish” aromatic garnish while the coarse grind makes a great garniture to add flavor to a dish toward the end of the cooking – whatever the dish.
If you are a fan of kimchi, as I am, ramp kimchi is a good way to go. I made a gallon this year. I’ll use it in my creamed kimchi collards this fall. I’m also going to try minced kimchi as a substitute for pickle relish in some deviled eggs this week. Be sure to cut the ramp leaves in large sections, and you can use them as a wrap around chopped pork or other bite-sized meat servings as great appetizer.