Cooking

What Are Ramps, and How Do You Cook with Them?

Everyone's freaking out over this spring vegetable
Ramp Vegetable Season
Photo: Andrea Sperling/Getty Images

Ramps are everywhere during spring—at the farmers' markets, the grocery store, on restaurant menus—and even though people have been losing their minds over ramps for years, we still can't get enough of them.

If you're not exactly sure what they are or how to work with them, you're not alone. To help you out, we've pulled together a guide for incorporating ramps into your cooking routine, and for those already familiar with this springtime favorite but looking for new ways to use them, we've included some recipe ideas below, too.

What Are Ramps?

The easiest way to describe a ramp is a cross between a scallion and a leek. The white bulbs at the bottom resemble spring onions, but don't let their beauty fool you: They pack a mighty bite, a combination of garlic and onion that's very pungent.

 

Today's Farmers Market find—all ramped up. �

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Where Do Ramps Grow, and When Can I Find Them?

Ramps are grown everywhere from the East Coast to Minnesota to the Carolinas and parts of Canada. Ramps are the first sign of spring but have a very short season. They can be found at your local farmers' markets and larger higher-end supermarkets like Whole Foods. Make sure to look for bright-green leaves; yellowing or withering is a sign they are not fresh.

How Do You Cook with Ramps?

It's crucial to clean this vegetable thoroughly from leaves to stem. The easiest way is to run them under cool water using your fingers to help remove any dirt, and then pat them dry. If you're not planning to use them right away, wrap them in a damp paper towel and store them in a loosely closed bag in the refrigerator. This will help keep them fresh for a few days. Another option is to submerge the bulbs in a vase of cool water for up to a few hours.

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Once you're ready to start cooking, trim off the end roots. The garlic and onion flavor combination make these the perfect swap anywhere you would use spring onions or scallions. New York French chef Gabriel Kreuther, who uses the allium in his Gewürztraminer-braised sweetbread dish, is a big fan. "They are a must in the springtime," he says.

Roast, grill or sauté whole and serve as is, or turn them into a zesty pesto for meat, a sauce for pasta or a spread for sandwiches. They are also a versatile topping for pizza or quiche. If you're not planning to cook with ramps right away, pickling is a great way to preserve them to use throughout the year.

How Much Do Ramps Cost?

The price will vary based on where it's purchased, but a pound will cost you roughly $20. But a little goes a long way, so you probably only need to purchase only a small bunch.

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