Saturday, May 18, 2013
Ramps - Allium tricoccum - are not a weed. They are indigenous to the Northeast, and are threatened by overharvest. It takes many years for a colony to establish itself, and many more for ramps to recover from zealous collection. And they are the one foraged plant whose name most people will recognize, if they like to eat, at all. In spring they flood our farmers markets for a week or two, and then disappaer. Sadly, they really are disappearing.
If you are lucky enough to find a patch, as I did this spring on a Catskills hillside, pick them sparingly, and with respect. One in ten is a good rule of thumb. And then stay away. For, oh, about ten years.
At home, use every single part.
Ramp leaves are very fragrant, but less pungent than their bulb. Preserving their ephemeral flavour in butter is a way to extend this lily relative's fleeting season. Dabbed into hot, slit-open baked potatoes, onto seared lamb chops, grilled steaks or sauteed mushrooms, a little ramp butter goes a long way.
Or schmear with abandon onto a piece of good toast, and eat it all at once.
1 stick (110gr) good butter, at room temperature
3 cups cleaned ramp leaves, loosely packed (about 20 ramps)
In a food processor combine the butter and the ramp leaves. Pulse until the butter and leaves are integrated into a pretty, bright green paste. Pack the butter into small jars and freeze, or use within three days.