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All About Wild Spring Ramps for Cooking

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A quick but essential lesson on spring’s best green: wild ramps.

What are wild spring ramps in cooking? What do they taste like? How do you cook ramps, and keep ramps fresh? We have all your ramp questions and answers. Read on. 

what are ramps food

What are ramps?

Ramps are as delicate as they are special. With a growing season of just a few weeks, snag them when you see them — usually at farmers markets and small produce markets around mid- to late April.

Sometimes called wild leeks, ramps have two long, flat leaves and a very short growing season (just a few weeks). Ramps are usually are foraged and harvested in the wild. This makes them a little bit elusive — and very exciting to get a hold of while they last.

Ramp season ends quickly, so store those ramps correctly to make them last.

What do ramps taste like?

Ramps are a wild spring onion, with a delicate taste somewhere at the nexus of leeks, chives, and maybe a hint of garlic, but with none of the harshness. Ramps have a mild flavor, but a wonderful one — that’s why chefs and home cooks alike get so excited about them in spring.

Next, learn how to store ramps to keep them fresh.

how to keep ramps fresh

What’s the best way to store ramps to keep them fresh?

When stored correctly, ramps can stay fresh for about a full week. Treat your spring ramps just like chives and some other soft herbs.

  1. First, dampen a clean kitchen towel or a few paper towels. It should be damp and cool, but not wet.
  2. Lay the ramps on the towel, and gently roll them up in the towel.
  3. Wrap the towel loosely in plastic wrap, or put it in a large freezer bag.
  4. Refrigerate.

Store your fresh spring ramps like this, and they should keep for about a week. The tips may wilt, but that is ok. Just cook them anyway, or trim them off.

wild ramps taste like mild garlic and chives

What Are Ramps for Cooking: How Do You Cook Ramps?

Ramps leaves and stems cook easily in a skillet or pan with olive oil, similarly to how you would cook spinach or other delicate green.

You can eat more than just the ramp leaves. The ramp stems and even the white bulb are fully edible and taste great. If you’re sautéing them, add the thinly-sliced bulbs and stems a minute or two before adding the leaves, discarding the hairy root stump at the very bottom.

bowl of wild ramp pasta carbonara ramp spaghetti

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  • Earlier comment should read “above the ground”

    • Unpeeled

      You are ABSOLUTELY right about this. I actually spoke with my person at the farmers market last weekend, and she said they cultivate theirs (so, maybe not the “wild” part of “wild ramps” so much!). But I agree that truly wild ramps need to be conserved so they can regenerate. Thanks so much for making this important point.

  • From what I’ve heard, ramps take a long time to regenerate. In an effort to keep from destroying the entire plant, it’s best to cut off the portion about the ground and leave the bulb and roots undisturbed.

    Thanks so much for sharing the best way to store ramps!

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