Piquant yet slightly sweet with a chewy yet crisp mouthfeel; ramps are a delicate and delicious treat.
Ramps are native to North America and are in members of the Allium family; like onions, leeks, and garlic. Wild ramps have a delicately piquant flavor that is slightly oniony minus the bite or heat that onions and garlic can sometimes have. When ramps start showing up on the menu, (and in nature) it’s a sign that spring is here and summer is on its way. The ramps that I just ate to inspire the flavor for the day were slightly caramelized so the outside was chew and slightly sweet but the inside was still crisp and fresh tasting.
From a culinary perspective, ramps are really popular all over the U.S. especially in the south where there are festivals held in their honor and a multitude of inventive and tried and true delicacies prepared. You can use them in the same way that you could use any onion or garlic but it seems best to just work with them in their whole food state because their flavor is so unique.
From a nutritional perspective, ramps have many of the same qualities of other foods in the Allium family. They are antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal and high in vitamins and mineral. Ramps are especially high in Vitamin A, B, and C, as well as minerals like selenium and chromium. Research suggests that including allium members in your is highly beneficial in lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Research suggests that allium is also useful in preventing a variety of cancers, most notably prostate cancer. It also aids in decreasing oxidative stress as well as systemic inflammation. They are also immune boosters and an excellent resource for fighting flus and viruses. Alliums are beneficial for healthy digestion and help stimulate production of health flora and fauna in the gut while eliminating the baddies, including parasites.