Pickled ramps. Oooh yeah… Crunchy, sweet-and-sour, just a little stinky. What’s not to love? Fresh young ramps don’t have an overpowering smell, but ramp bulbs sure do: It’s a big garlicky-oniony smack in the face. But these pickles are so damn good.
And pretty, too. I came up with the flavors after reading a reference to a pickle made in Medieval Persia that used honey and saffron and “aromatic herbs.” I reckoned that’d be delicious, so I developed this recipe.
You can buy ramp bulbs fresh or frozen online from Earthy Delights, or you can forage them yourself if you love in the East. Or, you can use big garlic cloves or pearl onions.
Makes 1 quart, and can be doubled
- 1 1/4 pounds of ramp bulbs, garlic cloves or pearl onions
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- 2 cups distilled or white wine vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 sprig of fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- Put the thyme sprig in a clean quart jar. Make sure you have an unused lid for the jar; they only seal properly once.
- Get your canning pot ready. Put a layer of old canning jar rims on the bottom of the pot, or a vegetable steamer — something to keep the bottom of the jar off the bottom of the pot. Pour in enough hot tap water to cover the jar by about 1 inch. Put it on your most powerful burner and kick the spurs to it.
- Meanwhile, pour the vinegar and water in another pot and crumble the saffron into it. Pour the salt in and turn the heat to medium-high.
- Once the vinegar mixture is hot, pour in the honey and stir to combine.
- When the vinegar mixture is simmering, add the ramp bulbs and boil 2-3 minutes.
- Pack into the jar, making sure to not overfill — there’s a line on the jar marking the proper headspace. Wipe the rim of the jar with a clean cloth or paper towel and seal.
- Submerge the jar in the boiling water of the canning pot for 10 minutes, or, if the water is just steaming, 15 minutes.
- Wait at least 2 weeks before eating. Sealed, the pickles should last a year. Refrigerate after opening.