Foraging for ramps (a.k.a.: wild leeks or wild garlic) is a springtime tradition on Minnesota's north shore that rivals smelting in its popularity.
When to harvest ramps
Ramps can also be found and foraged throughout the summer. But they're most easily spotted in early spring as they're one of the first plants to grow on the forest floor.
Late season ramps will also have a slightly different texture as their stalks mature and get denser.
What ramps taste like
Ramp tastes a lot like garlic with a hint of onion and a mildly spicy kick. In addition to a plethora of ramp dishes, they can substitute in any recipe that calls for white onions.
Where to find ramps
In the early spring, ramps grow first on river bluffs that get plenty of sunlight. In our area, they're frequently found among patches of maples. We found ours just off the Superior Hiking Trail near the Onion River.
How to harvest ramps
"To be sustainable, we need to leave the roots," reports Emily Haussner, General Manager at Caribou Highlands. Bring a sharp knife or scissors and cut the ramp just above ground level.
Ramps take decades to return if they aren't harvested responsibly, so please don't pull up the bulbs!
Right now we have the first signs of spring which are spring ramps. It's absolutely beautiful spring doesn't get any better than this. So we're looking for kind of a bright, sunny, high elevation area with a bunch of maples. Wow, they're all over here as far as the eye can see. So ramp tastes a lot like garlic, moreso than onion. It's got a real spicy flavor to it.
Yeah, I'm gonna start crying if I rub my eyes.
To be sustainable, and we'll want to leave the root. So using a sharp knife if you cut the ramp just above the root…
I grew up in litsen foraging for ramps was the first sign of spring. After a really long winter. It always was the most hopeful thing to see a ramp. I love the flavor. We are going to go back to the kitchen we're going to make some ramp pesto that will be specialiing at Moguls Grille.
First, we're going to wash the ramps and take off the slimy skin and usually remove the stem from the stalk. Now, you want them to stay that really beautiful green color. So you'll want to blanch them. We put them in salty boiling water and then right into an ice bath. From there really they go right into the food processor. So we use two cups of ramps, about half a cup of vegan Parmesan cheese, half a cup of nuts, I actually use a mixture of pine nuts and macadamia nuts and then a half a cup of the olive oil, two garlic cloves and some kosher salt. And you'll just mix that into your pesto consistency to your liking. We've whipped up a vegan Pasta Primavera some fresh asparagus, tomato we use a little bit of red onion and mushrooms. So give those a brief saute and olive oil, added some white wine, three tablespoons of the pesto to finish the sauce. Add the noodles, give it a couple tosses and you're ready to go.
It looks amazing.
It's so satisfying to eat something that you just picked literally a couple hours ago, right in our back backyard. It's something I look forward to every year.