If you've lived on the East Coast of US, you're probably aware of those few weeks of giddy excitement every spring when freshly picked wild ramps show up at all the farmers markets and as very limited seasonal specials in just about every fancy-schmancy restaurant across New England.
Ramps are a wild onion that sprout in deciduous forests in early spring, when temperatures are still low but there's abundant sunlight. They can take up to 7 years to reach maturity, and the same ramp stalks re-grow new leaves year after year (so the leaves can be harvested without hurting the plant itself). As a result, their famously savory, earthy allium flavor is usually a short-lived seasonal delight. Not anymore.
Our wild ramps were hand-picked in a sugar maple forest in NY's Adirondack mountains in the spring of 2021. Ramps are a wild onion, one of the first forest plants to mature every spring. They need altitude, rich loamy soil, low temperatures, sunlight and space to grow. These conditions exist for only a few weeks in mid-spring — before the ground has warmed up, before the other plants have crowded them out and blocked the sun. Ramps propagate slowly and can take several years before they mature to their full size. They grow in clusters on the forest floor, especially around the bases of old-growth trees.One of the challenges with ramps is figuring how to harvest this slow-growing wild plant sustainably. We opted to pick only the leaves (and not the bulbs, which will re-grow new leaves every year) and to only harvest a small percentage of plants from each cluster. Our ramp leaves were foraged on the land reserve where New Leaf Tree Syrups tap trees for their excellent maple, birch and other tree syrups. They were hand-picked by a group of H-2A agricultural experts from Jamaica who also tap maple trees for syrup and maintain upstate NY's extensive apple orchards. Meet the Forager: That's Omar in the photo above. Omar is a carpenter back home in Jamaica, but for the last few years he's been spending the late winter/early spring in the Adirondacks, snowshoeing through the woods, setting taps in thousands of maple trees. We were lucky enough to have his help harvesting ramps (which he also likes to add to broths, curries and other dishes).
Adds a difference to my recipes. True unami!!!!!
Wild Ramps a win
These ramps smell divine, and I cannot make an omelet anymore without them. I also pop them into just about any saute or roasting of onions, shallots, mushrooms, and such. a great find!
I love the variety and quality of the herbs.
We love the flavor. Bought 4 additional bottles as we are using the ramps to add flavor to a great deal of dishes