Pickled ramps. Oooh yeah… Crunchy, sweet-and-sour, just a little pungent. 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. Saffron is expensive, however, so if you can’t find it, sub in a little turmeric. Even curry powder will do in a pinch.
Don’t worry if you don’t have ramps where you live. Any large wild onion bulb will work. There are big wild onions in Texas, here in the West — nodding onion bulbs are great for this — and even the ubiquitous “lawn onion” of the East Coast can set decent sized bulbs. And of course you can use store-bought pearl onions.
You can buy ramp bulbs fresh or frozen online, or you can forage them yourself if you live in the East.
- 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 to 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.
- Wait at least 1 week before eating. Sealed, the pickles should last a year. Refrigerate after opening.