In the kitchen, you can’t say that Spring has officially arrived until the ramps show up.  <!–more–>Of course morels, asparagus and fava beans also signal the onset of Spring, but ramps represent the true introduction to warmer weather.

Ramps are a species of wild leek, grown sporadically throughout the eastern United States and Canada.  We like to pickle them and use them throughout the spring season.  Here’s a simple recipe for pickling ramps:

2 cups champagne vinegaIMG_0755r (high quality)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp whole coriander seed1 Tbsp whole fennel seed
2 each star anise pods
1 Tbsp black peppercorns

Bring the vinegar, sugar and water to a boil.  Toast the spices and add them to the boiling liquid.  Turn down heat and simmer for 2 minutes to ensure all sugar has dissolved.

Clean the ramps and separate the green leaves from the bulbs.  The leaves are great in salads, and even very lightly sauteed–they add a pungent onion-y flavor.  Trim the roots off of the bulbs and place in your pickling vessel.  Jam jars work well.

Pour your hot pickling liquid over the ramp bulbs and place the lid on tight.  The ramps will be ready to use the next day, and will only get better over time.  Use within 2 weeks, if left un-refrigerated.  The liquid may also be used in vinaigrettes and sauces.IMG_0758