Today was a day for much picking of ramps/wild leeks. Not quite time to hit the morel spots deep in the woods, but the ramps are ripe for the picking, big floppy rabbit ears, most with a nicely developed onion-y bulb as well. In a few weeks you will still be able to pick them, but they may develop a sort of stringy-unpleasant-woody mouthfeel, like other onions when they have sat in a root cellar for too long.
Wanting to seize the day and process my ramps as fast as possible, I decided a condiment was in order. As a meat eating man, I have friends who are also men. Sometimes my friends desire a red colored condiment for their meat. As I would cringe if someone threw Heinz on something I cooked, I decided that ramp ketchup would make a fun and easy ramp preserve to enjoy all throughout the grilling season this year.
Ramps are particularly suited to sweet and sour combinations, or any recipe that has a bit of sugar in it, it really seems to make their flavor come alive. The sweetness in this recipe comes from honey, the sour from vinegar, the rest is all ramp. Even though this ketchup is tomato based, the typical tomato and sugar flavor combination will not be what you taste when you try the ramp ketchup. The tomatoes are just a stage for the ramps to dance on.
Fills 4 pint/mason jars
- 8 oz fresh ramp bulbs, red stem attached, leaves removed, the bulbs sliced 1/4 inch thick horizontally.
- 2 oz fresh ramp leaves, diced into 1/2 inch squares
- Salt to taste
- 2 tbsp flavorless cooking oil, like grapeseed
- 4 16 oz cans whole peeled tomatoes
- Hot sauce of your choice, to taste
- 1/4 cup vinegar, any kind, I prefer apple cider
- 1/4 cup honey, preferably a mild honey like clover
- In a very wide cooking pan, sweat the sliced ramp bulbs in the oil until they are translucent and soft, about 3-4 minutes.
- Puree the tomatoes in a blender. Pass the tomatoes through a china cap or strainer to remove the seeds. Add the tomatoes vinegar, honey, and hot sauce to the ramps.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, continue cooking for about 1.5 hours, or until the mixture is quite thick, like ketchup.
- At the last moment before you put the ramp ketchup into canning jars and process it, stir in the diced ramp leaves, check the seasoning of the ketchup, and adjust as needed.
- Fill the canning jars and continue with processing as usual, Process for 12 minutes in a water bath canner.