Ramps, a delicious seasonal delicacy.


Ramps will soon be available at your market. A springtime delicacy from Maine to Georgia. Festivals celebrate ramps as a sign of rebirth as they are one of the first greens to pop up after winter. For now, they are not grown commercially and they are only around for 2-3 weeks.

Whether you buy your ramps or harvest them yourself here is how to store them:

  • First, rinse them really well; they have many hiding places for dirt.
  • Then, roll these treasures in a paper towel, place in an unsealed plastic bag, and keep them in the fridge. Make sure the delicate leaves are covered by the towel and don't bend or crush the plant. Don't be surprised when your entire refrigerator smells like garlic, it is part of their charm. They will only keep 3 or 4 days like this, so be sure to buy or harvest only what you will use.

You can also freeze ramps. There are several methods:

  • Blanch the ramps by dipping in boiling water for 15 seconds, then dip in ice water to stop the cooking. Pat dry and layout on a sheet tray in a single layer. Put in the freezer. When frozen put the ramps into a freezer bag or container and then label.
  • Make ramp oil or butter. Blanch the ramps as above. Pat dry and put in a blender or processor with enough oil or soft butter to make a paste. Put in storage containers or ice cube trays to freeze, then put in a freezer bag and label.

According to Berkley University of California (https://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-eating/food/article/onions-try-ramps): “there is no reliable nutrition information for ramps, but their profile is likely similar to that of scallions, leeks, and other alliums, which are low in calories and provide some fiber and small amounts of vitamin C, potassium, and iron, along with flavonoids, sulfur compounds (allicin), and other potentially beneficial compounds.”

With the popularity of foraging for ramps expanding every year people are now harvesting ramps sustainably. They are a slow-growing plant. From seed to harvest size takes 5-7 years. Here are some tips:

  • Harvest without taking the whole bulb and root. This leaves enough of the plant to come back next year. Take a sharp knife with you that is long enough to reach just above the top of the bulb. Replace dirt to cover the bulb and root.
  • Some people only harvest the leaves.
  • Don’t take all the leaves from one plant or clump. Take no more than 50%.
  • Move around the patch so there are no bald spots.

There is really only one look-alike in the woods that might confuse you, lily of the valley. They are not edible. If you are not sure, rub the leaf between your fingers. If you smell garlic or onion that is a ramp. Enjoy!

Last updated October 7, 2020