Yes, it is that time of the year again. Ramps are on the menu and I have some new ideas for my haul this year. I wasn't actually expecting to get as many ramps as I did. A week ago when I did a little preliminary scouting at my typical spot the pickings were looking slim. A few clumps were still there, but when you are harvesting ramps you have to be very careful to only take a few because they can take years to grow back. I was planning on being conservative and only taking a few to satisfy a little craving. When I arrived at the spot something was telling me to look a little bit further along the trail. I knew that if I could find ramps in one spot, it was a good chance there might be some more. Little did I know just how many more I would stumble upon.
I found more ramps then anyone could possibly eat in twenty lifetimes. A sea of ramps. In some spots I had to deliberately step so as to not trample any. Every so often I would quietly giggled like a child with a secret. I walked for hours just enjoying the cool spring breeze and the warm morning sun shining through the trees. Now I could be selective, picking only the larger ramps in each bunch. Something I noticed is that ramps that were growing on the north side of a tree, probably getting more shade then the others, were a much brighter shade of purple. I also came across ramps with seed heads still hanging on. I managed to collect a few of the tiny black ramp seeds. Now the true test of my skill would be to germinate those seeds, but after doing a little reading on the subject, it does not sound easy. So are you wondering why I chose ramp jam? It is not the most attractive looking condiment I'll admit, but we all know sometimes looks can be deceiving. I am not actually the first person to come up with ramp jam. Blackberry Farm in eastern Tennessee, sells items such as ramp pesto, ramp kraut, pickled ramps, ramp jam and strawberry ramp jam. Currently the ramp jam is all sold out, which is precisely why I knew I needed to make my own. They give a list of the ingredients so it wasn't hard to to figure out how to make it.
I've made caramelized onions before, which is pretty much the exact same process as making onion jam. Let me first warn you about the smell this condiment is going to make inside your kitchen, and living room, and quiet frankly the whole house once it is complete. Just don't say I didn't warn you.
Now what do you put ramp jam on? The same things you would put caramelized onions on: hamburgers, grilled meat, cheese plates, over eggs and even in a tart (just some ideas to start with). One thing about this jam and other onion jams, is that they unfortunately have to be stored in the refrigerator. I'm not actually sure why they can't be canned, but this recipe makes a small batch so there really is no need anyway. If you want you can divide the recipe and freeze half to keep it a bit longer.
makes 1 pint
2 tablespoons olive oil
15-20 ramps, sliced (bulb and leaves)
6 large onions, halved and sliced
1 tablespoon sea salt
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup organic cane sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Sliced the onions and ramps. In a large stockpot add two tablespoons of olive oil. Add the sliced onions and ramps in layers. Sprinkle the sea salt on each layer to draw the moisture out. On the stove top, heat the stockpot over medium low. Cook, covered until the onions start to release their moisture, about 25-30 minutes. Periodically lift the lid and stir to prevent burning. The mixture should deflate considerably. When the level of moisture in the pot is about equal with the top of the onions, remove the lid. Continue to cook uncovered, allowing the onions and ramps to slowly reduce and caramelize, about one hour. Stir periodically to prevent burning. Once the onions have taken on a darker shade of color and reduced by half or more, add in the red wine vinegar and cane sugar. Increase the heat to medium and stir often until the mixture thickens, a few minutes longer (watch carefully so it does not burn). Remove the pot from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the ramp jam into clean jars. I placed mine in two half pint jars. One jar went into the freezer and one in the refrigerator.
Ramp jam will keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator, and for 6+ months in the freezer.