Without a doubt, this is my favorite way to preserve ramps.
Essentially, this is just a simple sweet pickle recipe, to which you could add various other seasonings. There are a few things to know about pickling ramps though, so I’ll touch on them briefly.
First off, ramps and garlic cannot be pickled just by pouring pickle liquid over them and processing in a water bath. What happens is the onion bulb reacts with the vinegar and turns the pickles blue. The blueing doesn’t affect the flavor, but it’s unsightly. To prevent blueing in your ramp pickles, you will need to first blanch them in some lightly salted water.
Secondly, ramps are almost like three vegetables in one. You have the leafy green top, the pink stem, and the oniony bulb on the bottom. Each of these parts has different cooking times and properties. The bulbs and pink stem can be cooked as one for pickling, but the greens should be removed and processed separately, such as in ramp pesto (see a recipe for that here). The greens turn mushy when processed or canned with a hot method, and are better off just pickled cold, like refrigerator pickles.
This is a bare bones recipe, a basic outline. You can jazz it up to your liking by adding spices. Some I like are: mustard seed, fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme, or fresh ginger. Play around can come up with some combinations you like. It’s useful to know too that the pickling liquid of the ramps is almost as valuable as the bulbs themselves. When I’m cooking with pickled ramps, 99% of the time I chop the bulbs, then cook them down in their pickling liquid to concentrate their flavor before adding them to whatever I’m making.
Yield: 3 pint jars of pickled ramps, depending on size and age.
- 1 lb Ramp Bulbs, trimmed of their taproot, red portion of the stem still attached.
- 3 cups water
- 1 T kosher or sea salt
- 1/2 Cup sugar
- 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar, or champagne vinegar, or simply white vinegar.
- 1 bunch of fresh dill
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon whole allspice
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- Toast the spices on medium heat in a saute pan until aromatic, then cool and reserve.
- Remove the leaf at the part of the stem were it turns red. Leaving the red stems on the ramps ensures you a beautiful pickle liquid with a pink hue.
- When you have trimmed the leaves, next remove the “condom” from the ramp as we call it. It is a thin layer of viscous tissue on the outside of the bulb. Remove this, also trimming off the taproot where it connects to the base of the ramp bulb.
- If you want to preserve the leaves for future use, blanch the leaves in boiling salted water and then shock in ice water to preserve their color. From here they can be frozen as is, or pureed to make pesto, vinaigrette, or whatever.
- Heat the water, salt and sugar, ginger, dill and spices on low heat in a pot with a lid wide enough to accommodate the ramps.
- When the mixture starts to steam and is hot, (about five minutes) place the ramps in and cover, making sure the cover is on tight. Steam the ramp bulbs for 5 minutes like this, just until they wilt a bit, but are still crunchy and raw in the middle.
- After the ramps are par cooked, add the vinegar. If you wish to can the pickled ramps, you may pack pint jars full of this mixture and process them in a water bath canner for 15 minutes.
- Alternatively, store the ramps covered in their liquid in your fridge. Provided that the ramps are always completely covered by liquid, they will last pretty much forever, at least until next ramp season.