Stink, Stank, Stunk

Posted: April 27, 2008 in food, Morgantown, ramps, West Virginia, wild food
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Appalachia\'s true harbingers of spring!Nothing is more Hill Trashy than a ramp.  This sublimely stinky, insanely pungent weed is the hickster’s harbinger of Spring.  I grew up believing that it’s illegal in at least one West Virginia county to feed your kids raw ramps and then send them to school because the funk was too much for teachers to bare.  This is the sort of thing that I could check, now that we have Google, but it’s also the sort of thing I don’t want to know isn’t true.  So take it with a grain of salt.  Or better yet, some bacon fat and fried ‘taters.

 Doug and Cindy Llewellyn from church were kind enough to give me this big bundle of ramps; the first of several to come.  This harvest was just enough for a three-pint batch of Ramp Kimchi–that unholy mixture of the stinkiest food known made by man and the stinkiest one found in nature.  (There is actually a line in the employee handbook of one of the last places that I worked forbidding anyone to bring Ramp Kimchi to the office under any circumstances.  As the only person in the world who makes this stuff–as far as I know–I feel honored!)

The process of making the kimchi isn’t as difficult as most folk expect.  The secret is to replace all of the leeks, scallions, and garlic in your favorite kimchi recipe with ramps and to only use the bulbs and purple stems.  The green, leafy parts of the ramp won’t hold up to the process, and you’ll get a mason jar full of black slime.  A lesson learned from hard experience.  Also, ramp kimchi takes a little longer to sour.  I tend to like my kimchi a little “green” and usually let it ferment for only 3-4 days.  But the ramps take longer to mellow and blend with the other ingredients, so I usually let the jars sit in the basement pantry for at least six days before refridgerating.

For the next batch of ramps, Cindy has lent me a wonderful cookbook called The Mediterranean Pantry that includes a recipe for green garlic pickles.  She reports that the ramps stayed very hot pickled this way, and I’m looking forward to trying it.  Usually my ramp pickles, which are made the traditional way with lots of sugar, get mild and a little un-rampy within a month or so, but she reports hers kept for probably a year. 

So, thank you Cindy and Doug!  At least, from me, the other folk in the house–who don’t eat ramps, want to smell ramps, or understand my obsession with local wild foods–aren’t quite as grateful.  BUT I’ve also discovered that making Ramp Kimchi is a great way to drive them out of doors to do yard work!

  1. Judith says:

    I love ramps! I just bought some of a guy selling them here.

    They were just as great as I remembered them being! Getting ready to order another batch!

  2. sarahemc2 says:

    Okay, so I recognize the above post as an advertisement. But, hey, it’s hard to make a living farming in West Virginia, and you gotta admire the folk for trying. Peace and all good things, fellow hicksters!

  3. inktarsia says:

    Where o where did you find a recipe for ramp kimchi? And what o what keeps you coming back for more?

  4. sarahemc2 says:

    I actually adapted an existing recipe for kimchi, replacing the garlic and scallions with ramps. And what keeps me coming back for more? It’s delicious! One of my favorite restaurants in NYC was a hole-in-the-wall Korean Barbeque place, and I have learned to make a passable bulgogi. Served with ramp kimchi, it’s the best! (Though, admittedly, not for the faint of heart.)

  5. inktarsia says:

    We have a Korean grandma in our family – my kids love bulgogi. I like the chop chei (spelled wrong, sorry) and spinach. You come a Colorado. We make you GOOD Korean food. Ty will wear his hanbok for you, which he loves. Homanee brought it from Korea for him.

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