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Pickled Ramps

Pickled Ramps

Recipe by Liz Sempervive, Executive Chef of the Millstone Café 

N. C. Wyeth (1882 - 1945), Late Spring Morning, ca. 1915/1917, oil on canvas, 31 3/4 × 39 7/8 in. collections.brandywine.org
N. C. Wyeth (1882 - 1945), Late Spring Morning, ca. 1915/1917, oil on canvas, 31 3/4 × 39 7/8 in. collections.brandywine.org
Ramps are on every chef’s minds right around now, mainly because this is the only time of year that they are available which makes them highly coveted. These “spring ephemerals” are a wild grown perennial bulb in the allium family. Cousins to onions and garlic, they have a sort of sharp, shallot-like flavor. They are shaped like a scallion with a white bulb at the bottom and a floppy tear drop green leafy stem at the top. I highly recommend you try ramps; they are delicious! You can find them in stores, but many people enjoy foraging for them in shady, woodland areas often found on a hill near flowing water. 

Foraging for ramps is fun, but please do so responsibly! It is important not over-harvest this precious culinary gem, because if we take all that is available there will not be any left in the future. When I go foraging, I always make sure to not dig up the root or else it will not be able to grow back next spring. Instead, use a sharp paring knife to slice the blub close to the root, but leave the root in the ground. A good rule of thumb is to not harvest more than a handful, which is the perfect amount for this recipe. In the spirit of responsible sourcing, do not harvest all from one spot—instead, cut one or two from a bunch and then take from another bunch. The wild patches I have found have been large enough to get as much as I need. 

Ingredients 

6-8 ounces Ramp Bulbs
2 cup sized Mason Jar
¾ cup White Wine Vinegar
½ cup Water
2 Tbs Salt
3 Tbs Sugar

Directions

Whether you have harvested the ramps yourself or purchased them from a store, rinse them clean thoroughly in a bowl full water as they tend to be very sandy. Using scissors or a knife, cut where the white bulb turns to green leaf. (Usually, when you purchase them from a store, they will have the root still attached, cut this part off and discard it.) The green tops are also edible and can be chopped up and added to sauteed vegetables like zucchini, or pureed into a Salsa Verde that is great on grilled steaks! 

Pack the ramp bulbs into a pint-sized mason jar so that they are standing straight up. Pack enough in so there is not much room in between them. Set the jar aside.

Add the vinegar, water, salt and sugar to a small sauce pot and bring to a boil on the stove until disolved.

Pour the hot liquid over the ramps until they reach the top of the vegetables. This is a simple “quick pickle,” so as soon as the liquid has cooled after you pour it over the veggies, you can eat a delicious ramp. Store the pickled ramps in the liquid in the fridgethey will stay fresh when kept in its liquid.

Pickled Ramp Bulbs are a perfect addition to a cheese board, on top of a salad, in a batch of tuna or chicken, or even chopped up and used in a salsa. The pickling liquid can also be used as a base for a vinaigrette for salads—just add some oil and spices.    


Liz Sempervive is the Executive Chef of the Millstone Café and Catering at the Brandywine River Museum of Art. She hopes to bring nourishment to everyone through her scratch cooking, classic dishes and rustic cuisine. Chef Liz is passionate about food accessibility and supporting our local food systems. She believes that collective healing begins with sharing a meal between friends. Her accomplishments include being awarded "Best New Chef, 2019" in Main Line Today magazine and participating as a contestant on Food Network’s Chopped.