A rich compound butter made from ramp leaves is one of the best ways to preserve ramps for the off season. Read on and I'll explain the finer parts, and how to make the best version possible.
Lots of people make ramp butter from the leaves of the plant and there's definitely more than one way make a decent one. But, I was reminded the other day that not all ramp butters are created equal when I gave one of my line cooks a verbal ramp butter recipe, and failed to mention that I don't use all raw ramp leaves. It turned out too spicy.
Blanch some of the leaves to balance the flavor
Writing recipes and weighing out different proportions of things can get tedious so it's important for me to find a balance of teaching cooks to create with their intuition, as well as having dialed-in mother recipes to ensure quality and consistency.
The next ramp butter he made was nice and green, but the ramp punch was barely noticeable. We usually blanch and puree the leaves to lock in the bright green color of the chlorophyll, but any ingredients will always be a little more mild after blanching and shocking in ice water as opposed to them being used fresh.
Not satisfied, I took half an hour or so to develop a mother recipe for the kitchen, the goal being that the butter had to be vibrant green, but also needed to have a strong ramp flavor.
Adding raw chopped ramp bulbs could work, but too many could push it to the verge of being hot and abrasive. I'll add that I've been focusing on using only the greens of the ramps in new recipes to gently nudge new and would-be foragers into a mindset of sustainable harvesting techniques.
The butter I ended up with was great, but, unfortunately, it needed a smooth puree of ramps, which meant a highspeed blender and a food processor were used, and it made at the very least 2 pounds of butter--a little too much for most home cooks. So, what I eventually settled on is a hybrid recipe.
How to make it
You take some ramp leaves, blanch half of them, then spin them into a thick, creamy, rampy butter with some finely minced fresh leaves for the best of both worlds. You get a vibrant green butter, a solid (but not too strong) ramp flavor.
Note on the images
Make the recipe below and you may notice your ramp butter is slightly different than the ones pictured--don't worry.
Pictured in this post is the original restaurant batch-ramp leaf butter. If you're a chef, or if you have a vitamix or other highspeed blender and want to look at the recipe for making 2, 5 or 10 lb batches, let me know and I'll send it to you, otherwise, enjoy your rampy experiments.
How I use it
I use ramp butter on all kinds of things. Here's a few examples to give you an idea-it's more than something to put on toast!
Garlic Mustard Shoots with Ramp Butter
Ramp Leaf Butter
- Food processor
- 3 oz (Roughly 3 cups) lightly packed ramp leaves Use a scale for the best tasting result.
- 8 oz 2 sticks salted butter
- ½ tablespoon cold water
- A few cracks of the peppermill
- ½ Tablespoon chilled lemon juice or water plus a few scrapes of lemon zest, optional
- Cut the butter into tablespoon sized pieces and bring to room temperature.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil and blanch half of the ramp leaves for a few seconds, just until they wilt, then refresh in cold water. Alternately, for a stronger flavor, steam the ramp leaves for a few seconds until just wilted.
- Squeeze the leaves dry, then chop roughly on a cutting board with the fresh ramp leaves.
- In the bowl of a food processor pulse the ramp leaf mash to smooth it out a bit, then gradually add the butter pieces 1 chunk at a time, along with the water, processing to make a smooth paste (it may take some time if your butter is cold-just be patient) continuing to process until the butter is light green and fluffy-make sure to watch the video as this is easier seen than explained.
- If the butter, or ambient temperature of the kitchen is very cold, add a spoonful or two of boiling water to help the mixture move in the food processor.
- Once the butter is emulsified, fluffy and brilliant green, add the pepper, and drizzle in the lemon juice, processing for a few seconds to lighten it.
- Double check the seasoning, adjust as needed (if you want it stronger you can spin in some extra chopped ramp leaves).
- Spread the butter onto a piece of parchment and refrigerate, or cut into portions and freeze.
- The butter will keep for a week or two in the fridge, and a couple months in the freezer. I prefer to vacuum seal it for the best long-term storage.
Thank you for posting this recipe! I just got a nice haul in the mountains by Mt. Mitchell (outside of Asheville. I would love to know your recipes for making the 2# and 5# batch. I have a Blendtec that could handle such a load. Thanks in advance and I thoroughly enjoy the many many posts of yours that I have read and used.
Wishing you a safe spring..
David, I took a look at them. It's the same proportions so just feel free to multiply. You may need a little less water. The only difference is when I do big batches I like to puree the leaves in a highspeed vitamix blender.
I assumed as much. Thanks for the tip about blending the larger batch.
What's the reasoning behind blanching or steaming half the leaves?
I used to have customers complain of garlic breath from butter using only raw leaves. If you want to make it with all raw leaves just chop them well before you start spinning the butter. I might start with 75 % of the leaves called for in the recipe.
how would you use the butter? what goes well with the ramp butter?
Use ramp butter anywhere you would use garlic butter.
I am in love with this! I just found out our new cabin property on the north shore is filled with ramps! I'm having fun playing with all these recipes! Thanks for sharing this recipe and for all the advice, Alan!
Glad you liked it.
Can you add the bulb of the ramp or just the leaves
You can add bulbs too, I used to add them raw as a garnish at the end to add extra punch. Feel free to experiment.
Hi, does "2 oz 2 cups lightly packed ramp..." mean 2 ounces is about 2 cups? I'm stalking all your ramp recipes, I've got a big bag of leaves!
When you see a conversion it means either- or. So either 2 lightly packed cups of leaves or 2 oz. The metric system is better than cups for most things, but American home cooks are bent on using cups.
Hey there Alan, after reading all the questions and your answers, I am still struggling with how many ramps to use!
I have a scale. Should I weigh them? Because I don't understand the 2 cup idea.
If using the cup measure, do I blanch them, THEN CHOP them up, THEN place them in a cup loosely? HELP! I really am unsure. Also, can I use the bulbs and if so can I blanch the bulbs, stems and leaves?
(Saving some leaves/stems to use raw).
I am a beginner/first timer! I have 40acres of ramps covering my forest floor! I just have to learn how to use them. Thanks for yr help. Ps love ur webcite, u have taught me how to sustainably care for my ramps!
Hi Julia, so the recipe says 2 oz of ramp leaves or two cups-either of these is referring to raw, uncooked leaves. Also the video is there for extra help-did you watch it? It is fine to use bulbs, but go easy on them as they're much stronger than the leaves. If you want to add some bulbs, I would slice them up, sweat on low heat with a spoonful of oil for a moment until they lose some of the raw flavor, then add them to the butter as it blends. I hope that's helpful, let me know if you have more questions. Don't over think it here-most chefs I know don't even use a recipe. If you want a stronger flavor, you can always add more as it blends, but you can't take them out. You got this!
I made this ramp butter yesterday and today I put it on cedar planked whitefish fillets. No leftovers! It’s amazing. I’m looking forward to using the rest for various things. Very good! I wish I could show you the photo of the planked fish on the grill.
Glad it worked for you Dave.
The recipe is amazing.