Here’s what happens when the first ramps arrive: the leaves and bulbs get separated, but there’s a much larger volume of leaves than bulbs when all the ramps are cleaned and processed. Needless to say, when I cook with ramps at the restaurant I regularly see the bulbs used faster than the leaves, especially if there’s an enthusiastic line cook or two working.
A couple years ago, staring at a couple deep hotel pans filled with leaves and no ramp bulbs left to add to the dishes, I did the most prudent thing I knew: I blanched the leaves en-masse and froze them. After blanching and freezing, the leaves keep their green color when they get made into a puree, or whatever I’m feeling like making, it also helps to save space in the cooler. One of the things I ended up making with all the frozen leaves was hot sauce, delicious, fermented, green hot sauce.
Last year I shared a recipe for a sriracha style hot sauce made with fresno chilis and ramp bulbs. This year, I thought I’d share it’s hot cousin: a green sriracha-style sauce made with jalapenos and ramp leaves, minus the bulbs. It took me couple tries to get the proportions right, but the final version here has a great amount of balance between heat/chili flavor and rampy-ness.
Notes and Variations
You may read the recipe and wonder why I say to throw away half of the seeds of the jalapenos and keep the rest. I found that I got a decent amount of heat from only using half of the seeds from the particular jalapenos I was using, but if you like it really spicy, or if the peppers you’re using are more mild, use more seeds or supplement with cayenne for a spicier hot sauce, by all means.
If you have some ramp bulbs laying around too, they add great flavor to this, but I don’t include them in the formal recipe since the point is to focus on the leaves. If you want to use whole ramps in this, add a few tablespoons of chopped bulbs to the jalapenos when you toss them with the salt and sugar before fermenting.
Feel free to experiment, is you’re sriracha too spicy for you? Add some more pureed ramp greens. Do you like it sweeter? Add some more sugar/sweetener. Want it even rampier? Again, add more pureed ramp greens, just remember to adjust the seasoning for salt and sugar at the end.
Fermenting in a vacuum sealed bag
Useful for a clean, scent-free ferment, which is good if you have a husband or wife who may not want to smell your projects in the kitchen. Put the jalapeno mash in a vacuum bag, press out some air, and seal without using the suction. Put the bag in a cupboard or counter and check on it, when it starts to inflate, you know it’s fermenting, using this method you can also ferment the ramp sriracha for longer as there is no outside air, but you may have to cut off a corner of the bag and burp it to release carbon dioxide once or twice during the process.
Green Ramp Sriracha
- Highspeed blender
- Vacuum sealer or fermenting vessel
- 3 lb jalapenos
- ½ cup ramp bulbs chopped (optional)
- 54 grams / 12 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 lb ramp leaves
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ cup flavorless oil
- Wearing gloves, coarsely chop the jalapenos, then combine with the ramp leaves salt and sugar. Place the mixture in an air tight container, preferably vacuum sealed, or covered tightly with plastic wrap, pressing it down onto the surface to remove excess air in another container like a jar. Allow the mixture to ferment for at least five days and up to 14 in a cool, dry place away from light and heat.
- After 5-14 days, Remove the jalapeno mixture and all the accumulated juices and cook on medium heat, covered, stirring occasionally until very soft and most of the juice has evaporated, about 30 minutes.
- Puree the pepper mixture in a highspeed blender until very smooth, drizzling in the oil to reduce friction in the blender blades, then pass through a chinois strainer and chill (optional).