This weekend a local foraging guide/enthusiast (my mother-in-law) took me to a top secret ramp patch she recently discovered. It was outstanding. More ramps than I’ve ever seen.
In case you’re not familiar, ramp is the common name for Allium tricoccum, a wild onion/leek found throughout the eastern part of the U.S. It is highly sought after for its delicious, earthy onion/garlic flavor, and can sometimes be found for sale for exorbitant prices. Of course I don’t buy ramps- I just find them! You can too, and indeed right now is just about prime time for ramps in our area.
If you want to start foraging, the regular cautions are important: don’t eat anything unless you are positive about its identification. Find somebody more experienced. Ask a friend. Consult many books. And be an ethical forager: removing the entire plant, bulbs and all, kills it. Ramps are not ubiquitous and they take a long time to mature, so many folks simply cut them right above the roots. This is what I do 99% of the time and I certainly don’t miss the bulbs; the whole plant tastes wonderful.
Ramps happen to be moderately common here in West Michigan; there are a few small patches on our property, and I know a handful of good spots in the area… but none anywhere near as huge as this one.
It is the largest collection of any particular wild edible I’ve ever seen, aside from perhaps a field of junipers or dandelions. I think most would agree ramps are generally tastier than either!
We walked through the woods and I kept thinking we’d reach the end of the patch, but instead it continued on. Literally ramps as far as I could see. Green specs in the distance, in all directions. Mind-boggling.
We each filled a grocery bag, not even making the smallest dent on this enormous colony of green, red, and white deliciousness.