Spring, Ramps and Butter?April 16, 2015
Spring means ramps, and ramps mean celebrations!
Ramps, also known as ramson, are a native perennial to the Appalachian mountain region. These notoriously pungent greens can be found growing in shady, moist, deciduous forests all over West Virginia.
Used as a tonic in traditional folk medicine, ramps provided vitamins and minerals as one of the first vegetables available to harvest each spring. Ramps are a savory leek-like plant with flavors of onion and garlic. They can be pickled, dried, fried and used in all kinds of savory recipes just like onions and garlic.Festivals and dinners are held during the peak of ramp season during late April to mid-May. Once the forest trees get their leaves, the green ramp leaves die, leaving a flower stalk. Ramp flowers will emerge in June along with a seed head to ensure a good harvest for the next spring.
Each spring, harvesting ramps became a symbol to the end of winter, with communities all over Appalachia celebrating the ramp harvest with dinners and festivals. If you are interested in trying these regional delicacies, be sure to check out a ramp festival or ramp dinner:
Apr 18, 10:30 a.m.- 3:30 p.m. at Richwood High School
Come chow down on ramps, ham, potatoes, brown beans, cornbread and more, while we enjoy old-time music and and activities. Adults- $15, Children 12 and under- $7.
Apr 18, 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. at Camp Creek State Park
Join us for a feast of old-time Appalachian classics like casserole, beans, cornbread, slaw and more, with a side of music from the Lilly Mountaineers at 1 p.m. Walk off the meal at a flower and bird walk at 2 p.m.
Bring some ramps home – recipe:
One of the best ways to preserve ramps and add their unique oniony/garlicky flavor to foods is to make ramp butter. Once you’ve made the butter, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or freeze for up to 4 months. The butter can be used as a spread on crackers or breads, or added to recipes and used for sauces or cooking.
2 Sticks of butter, softened
A handful of ramps, cleaned and sliced
Salt and pepper
Before you use the ramps, you will need to trim and clean then. Soak the ramps in cold water and
use your fingers to gently pull the leaves back to rinse out any dirt. Allow the ramps to drain and dry before using. Once the ramps are dry, finely slice or mince them.
Place the butter in a mixing bowl, and beat until creamy, then add the ramps and a pinch or two of salt and pepper. Mix for 1 minute and scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again until all the butter and ramps are combined. You can store the butter in a container, or scoop it out onto a piece of parchment paper and roll it into a log.Have you tasted a ramp? What did you think?