What are Ramps?

Ramps (Allium tricoccum) also known as Wild Leeks, Wild Onions, and in some places Ramsons are very popular in the Wild Edibles. Another nickname given to it because of its garlic-sweet onion taste is “Little Stinkers”.

The Plant is best known as a wild onion and is Native throughout the United States. Ramps are low in calories and provides some fiber with a small amount of vitamin C, Iron, & Potassium.

When To Look For Ramps

Ramps are one of the first plants to spring up in the Spring and will appear right before the Morel Mushrooms and the Jack-In-The-Box (Pulpit). Depending on the weather this could be mid April to mid May.

What To Look For

In the Midwest we find the Ramps anywhere from the top of the ridges to the bottom of the valley, but are easily seen once you know what you’re looking for. When searching look for areas where the healthiest plant life is and start there. Ramps like more shade than sun and need moderate moisture. Look for their light green leaves with deep reddish purple stems leading down to the bulb. If you are not sure it’s the right plant tear off a piece of the leaf and take a sniff, you will smell the onion scent, if not then it’s not what your looking for. The leaves will range up to 2.5 inches wide and 10 inches long and the largest bulb I have found is the size of a large marble.

A Delicacy Sought After

Ramps have been sought after for many years and this Wild Edible is a delicacy for Chefs and your Local Bars & Restaurants. So they are not cheap if purchased in the store, with prices for fresh picked Ramps at $20/lb or more.

Ramps are a wild onion so both the greens and white bulb are good to eat, but is one better for your taste then the other? Do you want to preserve the plant for future pickings? Is there a way to harvest the plant and promote future growth?

Greens – If you prefer the Greens over the Bulbs then the best practice for picking is to cut off one of the two leaves and move on to the next plant. This will cause the least amount of stress on the plant and still preserve the plant for future pickings. This Ramp will also increase in size the following year.

Bulbs – If you prefer the bulbs or want both the bulb and greens then I recommend the following; have a sharp knife and a small garden spade. Pull the dirt around the bulb away and cut the bulb off just above the roots, leaving the bottom part of the bulb with the roots. Now replace the dirt and move on to your next Ramp. This will allow the plant to survive for future picking, but it may take an extra year before it’s largest enough to harvest again.

Selling – If you’re looking to sell Ramps, then dig up the entire plant (roots and all) and sell it as is. However check with the party you are selling to first and see if one of the above picking methods will suffice, as this method removes the plant and does not promote future pickings.

So Good To Eat

Ramps are delicious and like anything best to eat fresh. Both the leaf and bulb can be eaten, which is better tasting is up to the taster. The bulbs can be removed from the Greens, washed and frozen for future eating, but again not as good as fresh. I like to use the same method I use for Morels; clean them, let them air dry (paper towels help), then place on a cookie sheet (not touching each other) and put them in the freezer for 30 mins. After 30 minutes take them out and place them into a vacuum seal bag and put back into the freezer until you’re ready to eat them.

How To Eat Ramps

Ramps are used or eaten just like you would with Onions, Garlic, and Chives. They can be eaten whole, but most will chop or grind them up to be used with other ingredients or in other dishes. I like to use them with my Morel Mushrooms since I pick them at the same time, or on steaks. I will also add them to my venison burger; a mixture of venison (50%), beef (50%), bacon (1lb per 10bs of mixed), and Ramps.