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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Ramping it Up

Ramps growing in the wild.
It's the time of the year for things to start ramping up from the Deep South to Canada.  We're right in the middle of the brief time that ramps, or wild leeks, are available in forests all along the East Coast.

Ramps grow in bunches in the wild.  They look much like scallions except that they have flat, green leaves that sometimes turn a deep purple or burgundy closer to the bulb.  Like a scallion, both the bulb and the leaves are edible.

Ramps have been popular throughout the East Coast as long as people have been picking them.  Many people think that these potent wild veggies taste like a strong onion and smell like strong garlic.  (The leaves are milder tasting than the bulbs.)

They're great in soups, salads, casseroles--pretty much any application that calls for scallions or leeks.  Just clean them, trim the roots off of the bulb and they're ready to use.  They are only available a short time, but they can be frozen to be used at a later time.

These wild leeks are so popular in certain parts of the country that ramp festivals are in full swing this time of year.  Here's an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette telling about the Mason-Dixon Ramp Festival in Western PA that was held this past weekend. 

So the next time you're out in the woods, look to the ground.  You might just find your dinner!

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