It’s wild leek (ramp) season and this year we’ve had more than the usual amount of rain needed to nourish these delicate, wild beauties. Every local in the Catskills has their secret ramp spot and few years ago, I transplanted a handful of wild leeks to a shady, wet spot by our house that they love. They love a water source and our house at the top of a ridge has brilliant underground drainage, so when it rains, all the water flows downhill through the ramp patch. Our patch is now several patches. Just before they die off, they send up stalks with dark, perfectly spherical seeds that look like tiny balls of onyx.
Because of their popularity, make sure that when you forage in the wild, you harvest sustainably: only take the leaves. Do not pull out the bulbs.
Wild leeks are best eaten raw, or close to it, for for their nutritional value. Not only are they an excellent source of vitamin A, B, C, iron and folate but they are rich in a plethora of anti-oxidants. They’re delicious roughly chopped and wilted into lightly scrambled eggs, or finely chopped and mixed into guacamole or turned into pesto. You can also preserve them in butter or salt.
To make Ramp Salt, you’ll need half a cup of sea salt and three dozen leaves. Dry the leaves in a dehydrator or in the lowest setting of your gas oven for an hour. My leaves below had already wilted a little because I left them out overnight, so I was able to fit them all on one baking tray.
Once they’re dried, they’ll look like this:
Grind them to a powder with the salt, in a pestle, food processor or grinder. You can vary the final product wildly with different techniques. For example, if you like your salt to be moist or more on the oniony side, especially if you’re going to use it all quite soon, dry the leaves for less time. Try drying half of the ramps for half an hour first if you’re experimenting. If you like the salt to be very flavorful, and more like seasoning, use less salt. You can also vary the level of grinding: either into a fine powder, or more chunky. The salt below is pretty salty and very dry, so it will keep for longer.