On Wednesday afternoon I took a short drive to Shelburne Vermont, accompanied by a couple friends. We were searching for ramps. This springtime edible can be found in many places around Vermont and has a pungent odor. It tastes a little like a cross between an onion and garlic; the taste is almost as strong as the smell. Ramps go well with just about everything from pizza to eggs. It is especially delicious if made into pesto as a basil substitute.
While you can find it at City Market it is far more rewarding to find yourself. It addition to the adventure, the woods are a relaxing place to spend a warm and sunny afternoon. The forest was blooming with spring wildflowers. There must have been thousands of white trillium intermixed with patches of ramps. In addition there were a large number of bright yellow trout lilies. For the briefest period this forest floor is awash with color. In just a matter of weeks the trees leaf out and take all the light away. It is amazing how these early spring plants capitalize on this opportunity, an intriguing adaptation.
The ramps grow in clusters. While there were a large number of them, it is important to only harvest a couple from each patch to ensure that they persist and survive another year. The plant has two green leaves and a reddish stem that ends in a white bulb. I brought a pocket knife and dug each one out, careful to preserve the bulb. While many experienced foragers say they are not quite ready, they still taste pretty good. Near just about every patch of ramps grew raspberries. They were just beginning to form real leaves and carried a whitish sheen on their stems. It is interesting that as one edible leaves another will arrive. This particular patch of forest seems quite bountiful.