ramps – pesto and pickles

I went poke picking in Elizabethton hollers with a fellow student from my foodways class and came back with two plastic bags of earwig-riddled leaves to clean and cook down. It was an extremely enjoyable experience and not the focus of this post.

On the way there I made an impulse buy of six bundles of ramps from the farmers market, mud and decaying leaves in their tangled root-tresses, that I made into pickles and pesto and ate raw with J rolling up everything we could find in the green leaves and chasing them with the fiery tight red bud stems.

There are a wealth of ramp pesto recipes out there. Many of them use the whole ramp, and some supplement with parsley or basil and use pine nuts or walnuts. I decided to start with Ramp Pesto from Food 52 as a guide, which was also the inspiration for a beautiful spread on ramp pesto from The Tart Tart. I used mostly the green part of the ramp with a few bulbs thrown in to round it out since I wanted to pickle the rest of the bulbs. I did some batches with pine nuts, some with walnuts, and some with pecans. The result in every case was neon green and insanely addictive. I froze the pesto in ice cube trays to pop out rampsicles in manageable amounts when I needed them.

It was much more difficult finding a pickle recipe. I hadn’t realized that few people canned their ramp pickles. I found plenty of beautiful refrigerator pickles, but since I’m still developing skill and confidence as a canner, I didn’t really trust myself to adapt one of those recipes. Most of the water bath canner recipes I found were reposts or variations on Tom Colicchio’s sweet and sour pickled ramps. The recipe looks sound, but I’m picky about sweet and sour foods. Maybe I’ll experiment with it one day if I can keep all the wild rabbits off my ramp patch long enough to have a larger abundance. For now, I finally went with this recipe from ehow. I’ve never used this site for food information before, but the recipe was sound and similar to other pickling methods I’ve used, and the simplicity of it meant that I would have an unadulterated perspective of the pickled ramp to start with. The end result was too salty, but crunchy and alluring in the way raw ramps are. I would love to find something similar with less saltiness.

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