Foraging for Wild Ramps


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The Ramp in it’s natural habitat.

Dating a chef has opened my eyes to many new foods. Truffle salt, sautéed kale, scrambled eggs with sour cream mixed in, and wild ramps to name a few.So, what is a ramp? The wild ramps are a wild onion in the leek family that grow about 3 weeks out of the year then they are gone. They grow wild, in parks, and woods, in moist nutrient rich soil, and if you’re lucky, you can find them in your backyard in the city. They grow sometime in the month of May, depending on what the winter was like. This year, they came later. We are lucky enough to have them grow in his parent’s backyard in Door County. We can only pick them sporadically so they come back the next year which isn’t a problem, because there are too many of them to pick them all!

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All that you see that’s green are Ramps!

Ramps have a mild, onion flavor, rich in a fresh garlic scent when they are fresh from the ground. You can tell if what you have is a ramp or not when you pull it from the ground because of the look and smell. If it smells like an onion, it’s probably an onion. They grow in bunches, and you can’t just pull them, you need a shovel to pull the roots out. (This is a lot of work!) There is a white bulb at the end, and a purple stalk with a dirty thin membrane around the bulb that easily slides off for easy cleaning.

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Here you can see the purple stem and when the white bulb.

What can you do with a ramp? You can cook the WHOLE thing when they are fresh! (After a while the green part will wilt and you should discard it.) Peel the thin membrane off and cut off the roots, give them a wash, and they are good to go. Chop the whole thing and put them in mashed potatoes, or grill the ramp whole and eat next to some good grilled chicken or put on a bratwurst.

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The woods where we found the ramps was pretty gorgeous, even in the beginning of spring when the leaves weren’t on the trees yet.

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Collecting our ramps for later cleaning and distributing.

We sold the ramps to the restaurant we used to work for in Green Bay, and the one that the fiancée works for now. They will turn it into an awesome cream of ramp soup, and the restaurant that he works for now does an amazing ramp pizza with white sauce and mushrooms, a dish with grilled ramps and asparagus with a fried egg, and a wild ramp risotto. The fiancée even dehydrated them and powdered them for a year round flavor additive. If you get to experience ramps at a local restaurant or from a friend, how lucky you’ll be!

Happy foraging!

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3 thoughts on “Foraging for Wild Ramps

    1. We got ours in door county, the sturgeon bay area of wisconsin, and we have friends that got theirs in Milwaukee, along trails in the park. The ramps like moist, rich soils in heavily wooded areas. They might be gone for the year but they pop up every spring.

    2. We got them in Door County, Wisconsin. We have friends that got them in local parks in Milwaukee along the river beds and bike trails. They love rich, moist soil in wooded areas, and they may be gone for the year but come back every spring.

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