Friday, April 20, 2012

A-Z Challenge - R is for Ramps

Springtime in Appalachia brings a welcome (or unwelcome) sight. Wild onions, known as ramps, start popping up in fields, by streams, and near trees. Folks around here love them and you'll find people out along the roadside selling them off the hoods of their cars for a few bucks a bunch.

Now the story I've been told is way back in the day, when ramp season would start, they'd sometime have to shut the schools down because the children smelled so bad. Ramps have a particularly strong odor, unique onto themselves, that is hard to get off your breath. One of my students swears if you drink vinegar after you eat them, it will wash away the smell.

A few years ago, big city folks, decided to take a shine to ramps, and even Martha Stewart featured them in her Living magazine. But they work best as a local food, fleeting in availability and time frame available to pick. (Here's a link to a high-brow ramps recipe)

How do you eat ramps? Well most folks like them cooked in eggs or taters, but some folks make a recipe called drunken lettuce.  For it you need:

Branch lettuce grows near the sides of streams (branches) in higher elevations, it, like ramps, is a springtime delicacy
A mess of branch lettuce
Bacon fat or fatback
Cooked crumble bacon

Sautee your ramps (cut them like chives - you eat the white part up into the tender green) and saute in fat. Wilt the lettuce in the hot grease. Sprinkle with cooked bacon. Sop up with biscuits!

Have you ever tried ramps?


  1. We collect those every Spring, but have to watch out since there's a similar looking plant that grows here which is poisonous. But ramps are great as a cream soup, breads, dips... they even have cheeses here with them. Supposedly very healthy :)

  2. I've never even heard of ramps. They don't sound bad, but drinking vinegar...Bleh!

  3. Never tried ramps (that I'm aware of), but the vinegar thing is interesting. My dad always puts pickle juice (or similar acid) on his greens.

  4. I've never heard of ramps, either!
    I do love onions and leeks and garlic. Perhaps I should try some!

  5. Hi
    Enjoyed from the A-Z challenge.
    Love'd your post about how the been here's have accepted you as one of them. Cant say I've even ever seen a ramp. Interesting post.

    Happy a to z-ing.


    My a-z blogs are:


  6. Yea, I've never heard of them either. But I do enjoy onions!

  7. I thought I'd heard of or tasted just about everything. But I've never heard or tasted ramps. Fried ramps sound pretty good. Learned something new today.

  8. I haven't tried ramps, but these recipes sound yummy!

  9. This is such a great post. I didn't know about ramps. I can't imagine a classroom aroma after ramp harvesting.

  10. No, I actually have not and did not know that was the name of them. I thought you were going to talk of the ramp of a sidewalk...very interesting!

  11. Hmm, never heard of these, or tried them, but I'm generally a fan of anything that can be fried, especially in bacon grease :)


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