What are ramps?

mattjjd24(4 upstate NY)April 27, 2009

My farmer's market was full of ramps this weekend. I went out for dinner at a local restaruant and they were offereing ramps in nearly every special. I had some pickled and liked them very much.

Is this something that can be grown? My wife thinks they can only be foraged in the woods. Anybody know?

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I've only heard of the wild ramps, an onion relative that is popular in the mountains of East Tennessee where I grew up. They were getting kind of rare in that area due to over-picking in some areas. They used to have a ramp festival somewhere near Gatlinburg. If you could get hold of some freshly dug plants, you might be able to naturalize them in an appropriate area of your property. I assume they spread like other wild onions....by seed?


    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 1:16PM
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Member of the lily family, generally harvested wild from mountainous areas. Tasty when fried. Used to go to a private breakfast ramp feed in WV for fried ramps, country bacon, fried taters, eggs and biscuits. Only eat them if you plan to spend the next week with others who have also - no one else will be able to stand your odor or you won't be able to stand others odor if you don't eat them and they do.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 2:13PM
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Ramps grow wild in mountainous areas, and I believe they have very specific soil and climate requirements. I've never heard of anyone growing them at home with any success. They generate all sorts of festivals and ramp related activities when they are ready for picking.

Personally I think it's just something to have a party about, and didn't think they tasted good enough to merit their own celebrations. But I did like them.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 3:43PM
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I am going out in the morning and dig ramps in a friends woods. Ramps are a member of the leek family only more pungent. They make the best potato leek soup. You only need one cup of ramps to make a half gallon of the most wonderful soup with a bit of fried bacon, cream and butter. I can almost taste it now.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 4:58PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Where I am from, in Western New York near the Pennsylvania border, ramps are know as leeks. Wild leeks are nothing like garden leeks except that both are alliums. They grow in wooded areas where the soil has lots of leaf mold. At this time of year, leek dinners are put on by rod and gun clubs and other organizations. They are indeed pungent and odiferous. Leek breath can be overwhelming. When I was in grade school, the teacher banned one leek eater to the hallway because nobody could stand to have him in the classroom.

A few years ago, when I found a large, dense patch of leeks, I transplanted a bunch of them to a shady area at the rear of my city property where the soil is humusy and fairly moist. The leeks have thrived there although they have not multiplied enough for a good harvest.

The article linked below has a nice photo of a mess of leeks.


Here is a link that might be useful: Ramps (Wild Leeks)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 5:00PM
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mattjjd24(4 upstate NY)

Interesting stuff! I think I'll buy some if they are for sale next week, if only to get familiar with them so if I see them on a hike I can grab some.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 5:17PM
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Ramps can definitely be cultivated. As far as I know, this is the only commercial producer of ramps:

But you can definitely grow a patch yourself under the right conditions or simply buy in season.

Here is a link that might be useful: Commercial ramps

    Bookmark   April 27, 2009 at 9:29PM
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corapegia(z5 NY)

I found an area 2 years ago with abundant ramps. Unfortunately, it's on someone else's property, I was doing garden work there. I pulled a bunch for myself as well as the landowner (who hadn't known about them) and planted the ones with roots in my wood edge. I added lots of leaf mulch and they came back well. This year I added a bunch more. I figure by the time I'm too old to garden for others, I'll have a thriving crop here at home.

I made an asparagus/ramp quiche for the baby shower (my first grandchild) last week. Everyone was very impressed with my knowledge of the avant garde in foods.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 8:32AM
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I dug a 5 gallon bucket of ramps this morning. We're getting some rain now so I will put on my rain suit and work on the patio rinsing them off. I plan on making potato leek soup to take to the Farmer's Market on Saturday. Temperature will be in the mid 50's. The soup will make a good lunch served up in foam cups.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 12:48PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

This is a very interesting thread to me. Over here we have a wild garlic, Allium ursinum, which is also undergoing a fashionable phase. It grows wild in damp and shady woods and is a weed in my garden. It is generally known as 'ramsons' but my 'Englishman's flora' gives 'ramps' as a local name in many areas of England and in Scotland and Ireland. Presumably settlers in the States took their local name with them and applied it to a similar American native.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 2:29PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Flora, I looked at Googled images of your wild garlic and it is very similar in appearance to our Allium tricoccum. I have no doubt you are right about the naming of ramps.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2009 at 3:26PM
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Ramp burgers are really delicious or if you put them on top of a hamburger

    Bookmark   September 4, 2011 at 2:57PM
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