Dried Wild Ramp Seasoning
A recipe contributed by Sarah Kozlowski
Earlier this spring, I was cutting firewood with my husband on our property when I noticed several patches of bright green plants in the trees nearby. I walked up to the nearest patch, bent down and picked one, and immediately noticed an onion and garlic smell. Unlike a plant that looks similar, the very poisonous Lilly of the Valley, I was lucky enough to discover one of the most sought-after forest edibles growing right in my backyard; wild ramps.
Since the season for ramps isn’t very long, lasting only through mid-April to mid-May in my area of Wisconsin, over the next few days, I chopped them up to be used in salads, on grilled walleye, mixed into citrus butter, and sprinkled over my scrambled eggs. Because the taste is so unique, I adapted some recipes for dehydrated seasoning blends to make a natural substitute for onion/ garlic cooking spice.
Even if you missed the season this year, you can keep this recipe in your back pocket until next spring.
You will need:
-Something to dig with (I used a large spoon) to get down as far as you can on the ramp roots
-A hunting knife or knife with a sharp blade for cutting the stems out.
-A bowl or some means of carrying your ramps back to where you’ll prepare them.
-A dehydrator (I have a Nesco™ Food and Jerky)
When harvesting your ramps:
To begin, loosen the soil with your spoon, trying not to disturb any neighboring ramp roots. Use your knife to cut the stem. Cutting the leaves above the ground reduces soil disturbance and allows the plant to re-sprout. Though the bulbs are thick and delicious, it is recommended by several seasoned foragers that they are best left in the ground as harvesting them can be detrimental to the population; only 5-10% of large patches should be harvested sporadically. Replace any dug-up soil so the remaining plants aren’t susceptible to cold or bugs, etc.
Time to prepare your ramps for the dehydrator:
Ramps have a silky membrane that covers the stems. You can find this just below the leaves and pull it down to the end of the stem. I found that using a dry paper towel helped this process speed along nicely.
Once the membranes are peeled off, wash the ramps and get rid of any dirt between the leaves, stem, cut any unwanted/dirty ends off. Layer on paper towel and dry for about 5 minutes.
When dry, cut the stems from the leaves. Stems can be thick on some plants, so I halved them down the middle of the stem to thin them out. When cutting the leaves, I cut them into 1-inch sized pieces.
When I placed them in the dehydrator , I kept stems and leaves separate on my rack shelves.
Set the dehydrator to 160° and dry the stems and leaves for about 6 hours until they were crispy dry.
**Hot tip: unless you want your home smelling like Shrek’s house, put the dehydrater in your garage or anywhere besides in your kitchen! Ramps have a very pungent smell that will linger!
When done, use a small blender (or coffee grinder, or mortar and pestle, etc) to finely chop and grind the dried ramps down into powder. To make a seasoning mix, you will want a yield of 1 cup of dried ramp powder. Combine with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Store out of direct sunlight in a Ball Mason Jar.
About the contributor:
Sarah Kozlowski is from Hayward, Wisconsin; she’s an avid female angler, hunter, hiker and kayaker. When she isn’t doing those things, she’s learning something new, such as becoming a passionate bow hunter. You can follow her adventures @skozlowskiii on Instagram.