Don’t Tramp on Ramps

Finally we’re seeing fiddleheads and ramps, these are signs of spring across Ontario.  Ramps, (allium tricoccum ) also known as wild leek or wild garlic only grow wild, meaning many ramp-obsessed foodies are driven to remote and wooded areas to forage for them, scouring the damp forest floor in search of the leafy green perennial.


ramps in the forest



The entire ramp is edible, from the narrow bulb to the scallion-like stem and the broad deep green leaf, but respect and care should be taken when foraging.  In Quebec, ramps are considered a threatened species and are protected under provincial law.

A person may have ramps in his or her possession outside the plant’s natural environment, or may harvest it for the purposes of personal consumption in an annual quantity not exceeding 200 grams of any of its parts or a maximum of 50 bulbs or 50 plants, provided those activities do not take place in a park within the meaning of the National Parks Act. The protected status also prohibits any commercial transactions of ramps; this prevents restaurants from serving ramps as is done in the United States. Failure to comply with these laws is punishable by a fine.

–       ^ “Regulation respecting threatened or vulnerable plant species and their habitats”Gazette officielle. Éditeur officiel du Québec.



The good news is, a little ramp goes a long way; they are pungent, strong little devils and you don’t need a truckload to get your fix. You don’t need to pull the whole plant from the ground either; snipping off the stalks and leaves will give you all the ramp you want, and it will leave the bulb in the ground, where it belongs, so it can continue to thrive and grow and propagate year after year.

Pulling up the whole ramp is literally overkill, disrespectful and damaging to the sensitive environment and kind of like killing the goose that laid the golden egg. Furthermore, snipping off the stalks and leaves is a whole lot easier than uprooting the whole plant, and makes cleaning them much easier as well.


Spaghetti with Ramps


Once you’ve got some well washed ramps you can use them in a number of delicious recipes, some of the best I’ve found online are Shrimp Tostadas with Ramp Mojo by Rick Bayless, Warm Potato Salad with Bacon & Ramps, Martha Stewart’s Spaghetti with Ramps, Creamy Potato and Ramp Soup and Bon Appetit’s Buttermilk Biscuits with Ramps & Cracked Coriander.

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