Before the spinach or early lettuce or even the asparagus, there are ramps to fill the desperate hunger for something green that taunts our bellies at the start of Spring. Ramps — garlic’s subtle country cousin — emerge from the forest floor like a drink of water to a parched throat. This Spring finds me especially hungry for green things and for the first time since taking up residence in this small town, I became swept away with the excitement of foraging and decided to hunt down a bunch of wild ramps for myself. A modest bunch was all I needed. The tops would find their way into a frittata dressed with pancetta, goat cheese, and kalamata olives. The stems and bulbs I wished to tuck away like jewels for enjoyment later. I modified this recipe for a lemon pepper brine to pickle them, following the sage example of a friend who did so with her own dynamite asparagus. The lovely pink hue is from the stems themselves; they sit like a prized jewel on my counter. I think a week might be all I can muster before breaking into the jar – hopefully that will be enough time for the brine to fully infuse the subtle garlic of the bulbs.
Lemon Pepper Pickling Brine
yields 6 12 oz. jars
Boil the following together for the brine:
2 1/2 cup white vinegar
2 1/2 cup water
2 1/2 teaspoons pickling salt
Place in the bottom of each jar:
1/2 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 clove garlic, peeled
1-2 lemon slice, seeded
Carefully arrange the veggies to be pickled inside the jars and add the hot brine, leaving 1/2″ head space. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.