Home > Eating Wild Things > Eating Wild Things: Ramps

Eating Wild Things: Ramps

A few terms you’ll need to know before you get started:

  • “Ramp’n” – verb. The activity of hunting and digging Ramps.
  • “A mess” – noun.  Just enough for one meal.
  • “A poke” – noun.  A bag, usually a shopping bag, used to carry “a mess”.
  • “Stank” – adjective. The odor given off by Ramps.

Ramps are a celebrated wild leak-like plant here in southern Appalachia.  Spring Ramp festivals draw large crowds to small mountain towns from North Georgia, North Carolina and intoVirginia.  With a lingering odor, once you’ve tasted a Ramp all your friends and neighbors will know.  The more mature the Ramp, the more pungent the aroma.  Ramp season is early spring and the higher the elevation the later the season.  The activity of collecting Ramps is known as “Ramping”.  Ramps are so sought after, they are becoming hard to find. 

So here are a few tips for ethical Ramping:

  • Don’t be greedy.  Take only what you intend to eat.
  • Never dig out a whole patch.  Only take a few and leave the rest to multiply.
  • Be careful where you step.  Don’t trample young plants.
  • Be sure it is legal to collect plants in the area you are digging. 
  • And of course, leave no trace.  If you dig a hole, fill it in and rake the ground cover back.

There are a lot of ways to prepare Ramps.  My favorite is to fry them with potatoes.  One or two Ramps are plenty and I use the whole plant, leaves and all.  With older plants the leaves may be too wilted to use for cooking.  Once cleaned and ready for the knife, dice into tiny pieces and lightly toast in olive oil.  Throw in cubed potatoes and brown.  There is no wine in the civilized world robust enough to accompany Ramps, but a stout black ale is perfect.  Here’s a typical southern Appalachian meal.  Ramps and potatoes, corned beef and cabbage and corn bread cooked in an iron skillet.

Enjoy, Jack

  1. May 14, 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Yep, a side of scrambled eggs with Ramps would accompany those fried taters just fine. Some Ramps in that cornbread would have added a whole ‘nother level of elegance. I got hungry just looking at the picture!

    – Zeke

  2. arlen
    May 15, 2011 at 6:51 am

    you`re killing me….wish i could have corn bread again….damn!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. The Velo Hobo
    May 15, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    I’ve been brushing my teeth all day and I still taste Ramps.

  4. May 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    Ah! I now have a point of origin for that foul smelling wind that has transited through the gorge and across Cowee and Balsam and come to rest on my deck!


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