Here we are at the end of April, thinking of flowers, green pastures, budding trees . . . and there is snow in the forecast. What is up with that? Well, Mother Nature is in control so we must learn to adapt and move on. We held our first class of the season on the deck at Maple Hill Farm and it was a full house. The topic was foraging for spring mushrooms. While the weather hasn’t been cooperating and mushrooms are several weeks behind schedule, the class was interesting and full of good takeaways. The class was led by Patrick Miller from Friendly Fungi. Watch for summer and fall mushroom foraging classes to be listed.
Patrick also foraged for ramps (or wild leeks). They are like a spring onion with a garlicky note. Brian and I decided to use up some of our abundance of eggs and made omelets with the ramps (bulb and green leaves chopped), mushrooms (not foraged), and some of our Carr Valley smoked Marissa cheese. Definitely was a full meal and delicious. This only makes us more excited for the growing season to get underway. The new greenhouse was started last fall but it was put on the back burner and finally getting to finishing it. It may be a little later than we anticipated but still should be able to utilize it this year. Last year we had put in an herb garden and shortly we will have to start cleaning it up and seeing what has survived and what might need replanting. It was definitely a labor of love last year and hoping that we utilize it more this year. It was fun to be able to go cut a few things, put them in a pitcher of water and then chill it to enjoy flavorful tasting water. I have been trying many items lately that have lavender in them (coffee, scones, etc.) and definitely want to see what I can do with it in my kitchen.
While I dream of the greenhouse being completed and the herb garden blooming, I leave you with a recipe that we found online and are going to be trying . . . pickled ramps:
Yield: 3 pint jars of pickled ramps, depending on size and age.
• 1 lb Ramp Bulbs, trimmed of their taproot, red portion of the stem still attached.
• 3 cups water
• 1 T kosher or sea salt
• 1/2 Cup sugar
• 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar, or champagne vinegar, or simply white vinegar.
• 1 bunch of fresh dill
• 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
• 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seed
• 1 teaspoon whole allspice
• 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1. Toast the spices on medium heat in a saute pan until aromatic, then cool and reserve.
2. Remove the leaf at the part of the stem were it turns red. Leaving the red stems on the ramps ensures you a beautiful pickle liquid with a pink hue.
3. When you have trimmed the leaves, next remove the thin layer of viscous tissue on the outside of the bulb. Remove this, also trimming off the taproot where it connects to the base of the ramp bulb.
4. If you want to preserve the leaves for future use, blanch the leaves in boiling salted water and then shock in ice water to preserve their color. From here they can be frozen as is, or pureed to make pesto, vinaigrette, or whatever.
5. Heat the water, salt and sugar, ginger, dill and spices on low heat in a pot with a lid wide enough to accommodate the ramps.
6. When the mixture starts to steam and is hot, (about five minutes) place the ramps in and cover, making sure the cover is on tight. Steam the ramp bulbs for 5 minutes like this, just until they wilt a bit, but are still crunchy and raw in the middle.
7. After the ramps are par cooked, add the vinegar. If you wish to can the pickled ramps, you may pack pint jars full of this mixture and process them in a water bath canner for 15 minutes.
8. Alternatively, store the ramps covered in their liquid in your fridge. Provided that the ramps are always completely covered by liquid, they will last pretty much forever, at least until next ramp season.