Supposedly we have Martha Stewart to thank for bringing ramps into the limelight, and thereafter sending the population of ramps into decline (See Here). I remember seeing an article in one of her magazines about ramps but I never though they would be something I could get. I have never seen them in a grocery store, but some people on the internet have. The major hurdle to finding ramps now is their popularity. If someone before you gets to the store or farmers market and knows what they are, you can be sure they will most likely be buying all they can get their hands on. So I knew my only option would be to go foraging and find some for myself.
The next step is to clean your ramps. When you dig them up they have a slimy membrane that you have to remove to get to the white bulb. It is almost exactly like cleaning the membranes of a scallion. The only other thing to do is pop off the roots and rinse the leaves. Once they are clean the task becomes figuring out how to cook and preserve them. Fortunately thanks to Martha and a few other food bloggers there are plenty of recipes to try. Below are a few of the ways I chose to preserve half of my ramp stash so I could slowly experiment with using them.
Some of the best ways to preserve ramps:
After making pickled ramps you have lots of leftover green tops. There was no way I was going to throw them out so I made some pesto to freeze and use later.
Process the green tops in a food processor and slowly add some oil until a thick paste is formed. Spoon into an ice cube tray or mini muffin tin and freeze. Once they are set remove them from the tray and store in freezer bags.
Ramp Compound Butter
I was most excited to make this, and I thought I was so smart and original for thinking to do this. Turns out I'm not the first to make ramp compound butter, but I was right because most people say this is the best way to preserve your ramps.
It is really simple, just take 3-4 ramps and chop them up, leaves and all. Mash 1 stick of softened butter on your counter top. Mash the chopped ramps into the butter and reshape it into a log and store in wax paper. Compound butter can keep in the freezer for up to a year.
Blanching and Freezing
I am not sure of the outcome to this method of keeping ramps. I'll be sure to add an update once I find out if they can hold up to freezing in this fashion. I have read a few places that say you can do it so I figured it would be worth a try.
Blanch the whole ramps in boiling water for 2-4 minutes so they become a brighter shade of green. Then quickly transfer them to an ice water bath to cool down. Pat them dry, place them in a plastic freezer bag and freeze flat.
It's like garlic salt, only better! A great way to preserve the flavor of ramps in a condiment that you can sprinkle on top of any dish.
How to Make your own Ramp Salt