How to Preserve Raw Ramps

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Ramps, also known as wild leeks, torment fans with their maddeningly short harvest season each spring. The woodland plants, which taste like a mild onion-garlic cross, feature a small bulb topped by broad leaves. Before ramps vanish from farmers' markets and the specialty shops, buy a surplus to make pickled ramps. This recipe calls for pouring a simple vinegar mixture over raw ramps, preserving them for use all year.

Things You'll Need

  • Canning kettle or stockpot
  • 6 canning jars and lids (pint)
  • 3 lbs ramps, leaves trimmed
  • 1 quart distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup kosher or pickling salt
  • Peppercorns (optional)
  • Prepare a hot-water canning bath by bringing the water to a boil in a deep kettle or stockpot.

  • Trim all but an inch or two of the green leaves from the bulbs. Save the leaves to use in an omelet or pesto. The remaining parts of the wild leeks can go into the jars without slicing or chopping.

  • In a saucepan, boil the vinegar, salt and peppercorns.

  • Reduce heat and boil gently for one minute.

  • Add the ramps to sterilized, hot canning jars.

  • Carefully divide the hot pickling liquid among the jars, leaving 1.4-inch headroom.

  • Wipe the rims of the jars.

  • Add the lids used with your canning jars; fasten securely but do not over-tighten.

  • Lower the jars into the kettle.

  • If the water does not cover the jars by two inches, add more boiling water.

  • Cover the pot and boil the jars for 15 minutes.

  • Remove the jars from the canner and allow them to cool.

  • Label the jars with the contents and date made, and store for up to a year.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make wild leek butter for another season-extender. This compound butter works well on top of fish, steak and potatoes, or melted into pasta. Cut a pound of butter into pieces; thinly slice about 1/2 pound of cleaned, blanched ramps; allow the butter to come to room temperature; puree or hand-mix the ramps, butter and seasonings of your choice; form the mixture into two log shapes; roll in wax paper and freeze in plastic bags. To serve, pull from the freezer and slice into as many disks as needed.
  • Adapt the classic basil pesto recipe for wild leeks, substituting ramps or using a ramps-basil blend. Freeze as many batches as you can make during the short ramps season.
  • Always sterilize canning jars, lids and equipment before preparing pickles.

References

  • Perennial Vegetables; Eric Toensmeier; 2007
  • Preserving the Taste; Edon Waycott; 1993
  • Ramp Farm
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