Ramps can be used in the kitchen as three different vegetables in one: the hard bulb, red tender stem, and garlicky green leaves; each part has different properties and needs to think about when cooking them. Last year, one of my coworkers threw some ramp leaves in vinegar to see if we could draw their flavor into it. The leaves didn’t give off too much flavor, but curiously, the vinegar turned a very light pink. After a bit of inspection and discussion, it was easy to see that a small part of the red stem still attached to the leaves had done this.
This year, I tried the same method, using only the bright red stem of the ramp; the result was fantastic. The stem and the bulb of ramps possess a much stronger flavor than the leaves, using only the red stems not only increased the color of the vinegar, but after only a week, it was heavily infused and ready to be played with.
For this simple method, all you want is the bright red stem of the ramp, If you have been picking ramps late in the season when their bulbs are the biggest, this is a great way to use up some of the stems that may not as pretty, or are deteriorating and have a shorter shelf life. For the best results, I would let it sit for a month, but even after a few days the ramps will have flavored the vinegar enough for you to taste it’s flavor. Flavored vinegar is awesome stuff, and you can use it like wine in cooking, if you don’t have any on hand.
Here are some Ideas for using ramp vinegar in particular:
- Deglaze a pan in which you have cooked meat, using a wooden spoon to break up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan, reducing the vinegar until it is almost dry and then adding meat stock, broth or water for when you are making gravy.
- Use in place of any vinegar in a vinaigrette recipe you like.
- Using the ramp vinegar in place of regular vinegar will turn the ingredients pink as well, which would be especially nice for pickling small cocktail onions, sliced onions to keep for throwing in a salad, cucumber pickles, pickled beets,
- Cooking equal parts of ramp vinegar and sugar or honey will result in a pink, sweet and sour sauce, or gastrique, which can be used as a condiment as well.
Pink Ramp Vinegar
Makes one pint jar of flavored vinegar
- 1/2 cup tender red ramp stems, cleaned
- enough plain white vinegar to cover the ramps when placed in a jar
- Chop the tender ramps stems into small pieces (The more surface are exposed by chopping, the faster and stronger the infusion will be)
- Cover the ramp stems in the jar with vinegar
- Seal the jar and put into a cool dark place for a month, you could also put it in the fridge.