Ramp season is in full bloom which means that this allium is making its way onto restaurant menus. If you are reading this article and don't know what the heck I am even writing about, then consider this a quick and dirty lesson in ramps. Feel free to parade this knowledge to your other foodie friends and impress them with five facts about this spring delicacy.
1. First and foremost, ramps are a wild spring onion. This native North American plant is most prevalent in eastern Canada and the United States. Their flavor is reminiscent of a shallot with a more pungent garlic flavor.
2. Ramps have an incredibly short season, I am talking two to three months. They begin to pop up in farmers markets around March and peter out in June. In other words, take full advantage of your find if you happen to spot them. It is akin to winning the food lottery or discovering treasure.
3. Ramps are foraged, not cultivated. Since these beauties are wild in every sense of the word, they are both rare and come with a hefty price tag. If you are scrolling through a restaurant's offerings and happen to see a dish featuring this VERY seasonal vegetable, I suggest you order it.
4. Clean your ramps thoroughly before cooking them. They grow in muddy soil so their many layers can trap dirt and sand. Once cleaned, keep them wrapped up in a damp paper towel in the fridge. Take care to not place any heavy vegetables on top of them. They can last up to two weeks.
5. You can cook ramps similar to the way you would prepare scallions. They can be roasted, sauteed, used as a garnish, or even pickled. The pickling method will extend their shelf life so that you can enjoy this spring veggie in the wintertime.