One for the weekend: Ramps

Home brewing has been a social godsend.  Brewing sessions are often social occasions, it turns out: knowledge and food are shared along with beer.  At a recent brew day in Holland NY, smoky homemade hot sauce and some excellent sharp cheddars ruled the day until the wild leeks came out.

Martini with a ramp

A martini with an onion is called a Gibson.  The drink pictured above is a Gibson with a ramp in it.  The wags present christened it a “Euell Gibson,” which is a play on Euell Gibbons, who is a man I had to look up because I am a Young.  Anyway, it’s foraging season for wild leeks.  There isn’t much chance of finding any in the swampland near us, but down south where there are actually hills you can apparently find them in the woods as well as asparagus and mushrooms – morels and chanterelles.  They’re one of the only green things on the ground now, but soon the trees’ leaves will crowd out the sunlight and their season will be over.

No matter how much Top Chef I’ve watched, I didn’t figure out that wild leeks and ramps were the same thing until someone mentioned it offhand and I felt like renouncing any claim I’d ever made of being a foodie.  They’re fantastic anyway, with that unmistakable allium taste, somewhere between onion and garlic.  They’re really smelly, but we eat so much garlic in this house that raw ramps couldn’t faze us.  (Keeps the vampires away!)  If you do find any, the whole plant is good to eat, and is apparently great in soups and sautes as well as raw in a salad or… drink.

Since alliums are the best but ramps don’t grow anywhere near us, this year we’ll be growing “real” leeks as well as onions, shallots, and the countertop scallions.  In a month or so the garlic scapes will be ready to trim and feast on, and this year’s garlic crop should be enough to hold us through next winter even with some saved out to plant and trade.

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