After the post-romp feast at Bill’s last week, a couple of rounds of ramp-topped buffalo burgers, a few bowls of spaghetti with ramps and several renditions of “green ramps and eggs” (as my wife called them), I wanted some way to preserve the last of my wild leek gatherings beyond ramps’ normal season. I doubted freezing would work. The possibilities of pesto were more promising, but I just wasn’t feeling it. Pickling it was then, as suggested by our ramp foraging guide. He’d mentioned a recipe from one of Colicchio’s books. Here’s my rendition:
Adapted from Tom Colicchio's Think Like a Chef, with changes as necessary based on the contents of my cupboard (and to avoid driving to the supermarket).
Makes about 1 quart.
1 large pot for blanching ramps
1 small saucepan for brewing up the pickling juice
1 cup unfiltered, organic apple cider vinegar
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon kosher
1 cup water
1 teaspoon brown mustard seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon anise seed
2 teaspoons mixed peppercorns (white, pink and black)
1 dried bay leaf
2 pounds ramps, cleaned and trimmed (no, I didn't weigh them...)
Large pinch of kosher salt for blanching water
1. Wash the ramps thoroughly under cool, running water. Trim the root ends off of the ramps and cut off the leaves, leaving about 1/4 inch of green. Save the leafy ends for another purpose (I sautéed them and added them to one of the aforementioned batches of scrambled eggs).
2. Blanch the ramps for 25-30 seconds by dropping them in a large pot of salted, boiling water. Remove then shock them in ice water. Drain the ramps well and place them in a mason jar.
3. Combine the vinegar, salt, sugar, and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the bay leaf, mustard seeds, coriander, pink and white peppercorns, and anise seeds.
4. Pour the hot vinegar mixture over the ramps in the mason jar, seal tight and let cool before transferring to the refrigerator.
I split mine, again using materials on hand, into one pint jar and two half-pint jars – just enough to give one away and keep the rest for use, as a reminder of spring, throughout summer grilling season. Four days on, a quick taste test shows promising results.
I can’t promise there aren’t a few ramps still poking their leafy greens above the forest floor here in the greater Mid-Atlantic States. I can, however, promise you that this will be my last ramp post (at least for a while...).