Thursday, May 12, 2011
Pickled Ramps on Toast
Things happen all the time to affirm my love for where we live. Being given a jar of pickled ramps by Colby's speech therapist at school was one such moment. The gift filled me with a strong sense of place and community: place because the ramps are a wild harvested plant, seasonal and from the forest floor; and community because this teacher we love and respect is thinking of us beyond the scope of her daily, intelligent work with our precious daughter. I mean, that is pretty awesome. And, I really love ramps, and I really, really love pickled everything.
Craig set them on the counter and we contemplated. First we tasted one straight from the jar, and then we started ruminating. I suggested, more feverishly than lazily, that we could just eat them straight from the jar with an occasional sip of freezing cold white wine while we stared at the blue sky and absorbed the feeling of spring.
Craig took a quieter, longer approach, screwed the lid on tight and shooed me away from the jar. I waited and shouted ideas into the kitchen while playing with the kids. A few in a bowl of ramen. Adorning a plate of grilled hangar steak. A palate cleanser with some fried fish.
Then Craig brought to the table this lovely plate, this sun dial that reads spring. The very necessary, ever present salt packed anchovies. Butter. Pickled ramps. We had fresh ramps so he sliced thin the slender leaves and sprinkled them over the plate. And the bread, the bread, lightly toasted here, is another recent local marvel, Wide Awake Bakery. Crisp, watery radishes are beautifully refreshing with the salty pickles and anchovies. Fresh, easy spring recipes are finally upon us!
Fresh ramps, cleaned carefully, bulbs and stems separated from the leaves (use the leaves to make a pesto or saute with other veggies.)
Make the brine:
Bring 1 C white wine vinegar, 1 C water, scant 1/2 C sugar to a boil and boil until sugar dissolves.
Blanch ramp bulbs and stems for 15 seconds in boiling water and then plunge them in
an ice water bath until cool. Dry on a towel.
Sterilize small jars and lids and rims as you do for pickles.
To each clean jar add:
1 fresh bay leaf
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
a pinch of red pepper flakes
Fill the jar with the blanched ramps. Fill with pickling liquid. Clean rims and lid them. Put them in the canner (boil with jars submerged) for 10 minutes.