Savoring Ramps: Pickles and More
Ramp season is upon us, and our patches of them seem even more dense and lush than the past two years. Because their season is so short, we tend to harvest more ramps than we can possibly eat before they go bad. Last year, to address this problem, we pickled the bottoms of about a third of our harvest and froze their tops. Though a power outage ruined the frozen greens before we could use them, the pickles were so good – in martinis, with lox and bagels, in salads – that we decided to use the majority of this year’s substantial harvest for that purpose.
So, Saturday, after a morning of harvesting, we spent the afternoon cleaning, trimming and pickling. Then we dined on Ramp Paneer (Saag Paneer with ramp greens substituted for spinach and ramp bottoms substituted for most of the onion).
That meal having barely made a dent in the tops, I’ve also given a bunch away, froze a few (to see how well they fare), added some to mai fun, made ramp risotto and ramp carbonara, and am saving some for Cory to enjoy with scrambled eggs and bacon this weekend.
Now is the brief window of the ramp feast. Luckily, we’ve got jars upon jars of ramp pickles to enjoy when the famine sets back in.
Sweet Pickled Ramps (makes about 4 1-pint jars)
4 “bunches” of ramps (hefty, hand-sized grips)
2 cups apple cider vinegar (450g)
2 cups water (450g)
2 teaspoons kosher salt (8g)
1/2 cup honey (170g)
1 cup sugar (210g)
2 teaspoons black caraway seed (aka: nigella, onion seed)
1 teaspoon caraway seed
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake
1/2 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon coriander seed
6 each black peppercorns
6 each whole cloves
6 each allspice berries
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium-high, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar and honey. When mixture comes to a boil, remove pan from heat and cover. Allow mixture to steep for about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, trim root end off of ramps. Cut pink/white ramps bottoms from green, leafy tops. Reserve tops for another use (these may be used en masse in place of spinach or chopped fine and used raw as one would green onions; see post above). Wash bottoms thoroughly in cold water. Divide bottoms among 4 sterilized pint-sized canning jars.
3. After mixture has steeped, ladle evenly among the 4 canning jars (a little boiled vinegar may be added to top jars up if necessary). Process for 10 minutes.* Store jars in a cool, dark place.
*Consult online canning resources for more information on heat processing.