Saturday, April 24, 2010

Yum, It's Foraged Food Again! My Favorite!

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Foraging for Wild Ramps and Incredible Flavor

David Becker.Author, consultant, online marketer
Posted: April 24, 2010 11:43 PM BIO Become a Fan Get Email Alerts Bloggers' Index .

Wild ramps are a delicate-looking plant that add some serious flavor to salads, pasta, lamb and more. They have a strong garlic flavor, and can be consumed from tip to tip.

With their small white bulb, ramps resemble green onions but the leaves are something else altogether -- long, oval, and almost silky, with pointed ends. The little pistil or stem is either red or purple. All in all, one sexy plant. (Forgive me if I wax rhapsodic, but I'm a big, big fan.)

One of the last truly seasonal foods available in North America, wild ramps go by many names including wild leek, ramson, and ail de bois.

Found in forests from South Carolina to Canada, and as far west as Missouri and Minnesota, wild ramps are the first patch of edible green to appear after the snows retreat -- and were treasured by settler families desperate for any fresh food come winter's end. Ramps represent a healthy dose of vitamins, a tonic for the blood, and some much needed flavor after a winter subsisting on root vegetables. At Friend of the Farmer, we find them at farms in the Berkshire and Litchfield County hills.

If You Can Stand the Excitement . . .

Do a quick search and you will find ramp festivals throughout West Virginia this month. The "Feast of the Ramson" is trumpeted with promotional language that verges on the breathless:

"The excitement is in the air... Just enjoying the West Virginia ramps in the springtime, for me, is what it is all about. Ramps which to this day thrive in the Appalachian Mountains and valleys... There's nothing quite like Appalachian Ramps."

According to Ideas in Food, wild ramps are often served at homes in the South fried up with potatoes or scrambled with eggs. In restaurants around the country "they may be pickled and served with fried oysters or soft shell crabs, blanched and sautéed in risottos and pastas, or simply seared and tucked up beside roasted morels and grilled lamb chops."

If you're lucky enough to find them in a forest near you, their pungent flavor is yours for free. Otherwise you can expect to pay $7 to $20 per pound. Not that you need that much to impress your friends with your foraging expertise. In fact, as with eating a few buds of garlic, you might turn some heads of your own. One Charleston, West Virginia, reporter told of kids being sent home from school after having had ramps for dinner the night before.

Grab a handful while you can. Otherwise -- unless your pickling skills are up to snuff -- you'll have to wait another year to take a ride on the wild ramp side.

More Reading:

How to Find Wild Ramps 9ticking the title redirects you to this cut and pasted article from David Becker at Huffington Post!

Ramps: A Sign of Spring


  1. have you ever had these, allison? i've never heard of them but i have to agree- they are lovely!
    happy sunday to you :)

  2. I haven't tryed them, but they look delicious! Thank you and have a happy Sunday too! :)


Banana This; Recycle Old Peels~ fertilizer or silver polish

There are things you can do with that old peel.

1. Do you have a green thumb? House hold plants and outside gardens require fertilization. A great way to give your plants nutrients is with a banana peel. The banana peel is very rich in potassium and phosphorus, which give that added boost to your plants soil, especially so with roses. Here is how to use a banana peel to fertilizer your soil for your plants. Remove the peel from the banana. Place the banana peel on a cookie sheet to let it air dry. Grab a paper bag or envelope. Crumble the dried banana peel and place it in the bag. Let the banana sit at room temperature for about two days. When your caring for your plant, give it a potassium treat of crumbled banana peel. Mix well in the soil to ensure the roots are fed evenly.
2. Have you been thinking about pulling out that old silver? Well there is no time like the present. Bananas peel can also be used to polish silver. Yes, polish silver. Take the old peels and place them in a blender. You want the peels to become smooth and creamy. Once they have, grab a cloth and small amounts of the creamed banana peel and begin polishing your silver. The shine will be breath taking.


Wild yeasts exist in the air around you and to some extent on the wheat berries. There are wild yeasts on grapes (unsulphured) and apples and other fruits. It is those wild yeasts which are 'captured' to make a sourdough starter. The process takes from 3 to 5 days. I wish I had specific amounts for you, but you could start with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour and mix in enough warm (not hot) water to make a thin paste. DO NOT make it too soupy. That, in fact, is the trick to a good starter, according to the French bread makers, and I think they should know. And after you've fooled around with the flour and water thing, you might wish to branch out into adding those unsulphured grapes, apples, sour milk, etc as a catalyst in order to capture other strains of yeast. Each of these strains has a slightly different taste. In fact if you move to another area, you might end up with a starter that produces an entirely different flavor. For instance, San Francisco sourdough bread is well known and has a distinct taste due to the wild strains in the air there. On day one you mix the flour and water (and add any catalysts to encourage fermentation) and place in a warm spot. After 3 days, the dough should be moist, inflated, and slightly sour. More flour and water is added (mixed in) and left to sit in a warm spot. After 2 days the process is repeated. Then the next day it is done again. Note the order: 3 days, 2 days, 1 day. At this point you should be able to make a loaf of bread using part of the starter and adding back what you took out in the form of more flour and water. Rule of thumb: Use about 10% starter to size of loaf. In the case of a 2 lb loaf this is a bit over 3 oz of starter (3.2 to be exact). For a 1 lb loaf 1.5 oz would be used. A book that describes this process in great detail is The Village Baker by Joe Ortiz, copyright 1993, published by Ten Speed Press, Berkley CA. If it's not still in print, try the used books stores, that's where I got mine. Or try your local library. If they don't have it, they might be able to get it for you. ©2008 by Ernestina Parziale

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