In the spring I get excited about ramps and fiddlehead ferns, I mean don’t you?! I’ve been looking at my local farmer’s markets and haven’t seen any, but I finally came across them at Uwajimaya (which is a Seattle staple when it comes to not just Asian food, but deliciousness of all kinds). Someday I aspire to having time to devote to foraging my own, but for now I’m happy someone else is finding them for me.
In an effort to draw out these spring goodies I opted for pickles. That way I can enjoy them for a couple of months at least. I also made a very basic pesto out of the ramp leaves that’s going in the freezer so I can enjoy their garlicky flavor even longer.
Most pickle recipe call for removing the greens, I did come across one that said to pickle them greens and all. Because I was making pesto I opted for trimming.
I made a basic brine with 1:1 cider vinegar to water, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp sugar with peppercorns, coriander and a pinch of fennel. Pour the hot brine over the ramps and allow to cool slightly before putting on the lid. They will keep for weeks and least, and I read somewhere you could save them for six months, but I can’t imagine they’d last that long. They’re too tasty!
The pesto was very basic, ramp leaves, olive oil, and kosher salt. If I decide I want to add cheese or nuts later I can always do that, but I like the versatility of keeping it simple.
Fiddleheads went much the same way, but you want to blanch the ferns before pickling. I added them to salted, boiling water for 1 minute then put them in an ice bath to halt their cooking. This also brightens their color. I added a pinch of cumin and a bay leaf to this brine. I have some pate I’ve been saving and I think that will make a delicious lunch in a couple of days.