Ramp Hunting Time In Appalachia

Ramps have a garlicy onion taste-only with a more intense flavor and smell. Generally they can be found at higher elevations on the north side of mountain ridges from South Carolina all the way to Canada.

In Appalachia Ramp hunting in the spring takes on a celebratory air. A few places have Ramp Festivals where you can try Ramps cooked in all sorts of dishes. In our immediate area there aren’t many Ramp Patches and the few locations are kept top secret by the ones who know where they’re at.

Since The Deer Hunter was raised “in the big mountains” (about 100 miles from here) he and his Dad are master Ramp Hunters. When he was growing up they went camping every weekend during the spring to trout fish, ride horses and hunt for Ramps.

The whole Ramp is edible although folks typically use the lower stem and bulb. The growing season is short for Ramps, but you can freeze them for later use.

I’ve read you can use Ramps in any recipe that calls for onion or garlic, but the most common way to eat them in Appalachia is fried with potatoes or scrambled with eggs. Growing up my family never ate Ramps that I can remember-I do recall people at school complaining about the smell of kids who had been eating Ramps.

According to The Master..I mean The Deer Hunter the best way to cook ramps is…

with a cast iron pan full of potatoes on a campfire. Just like his Daddy taught him.

I’m sure there are some unusual foods in your area-please leave me a comment-I’d love to hear about them. Recently I came across 2 unusual ways of using pickles at Twisted Fencepost & Deep Fried Kudzu check them out you might just like them!


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  • Reply
    George Long
    April 17, 2011 at 12:55 am

    I just enjoyed a ramp dinner at the local library. The ramps were prepared stir fry style, with some other vegetables. I am thinking wouldn’t crook neck squash and ramps be delicious together. I stopped at a friends house yesterday and she had made a dozen of pepperoni rolls for me but the specialty was ramps inside also. She calls them ramperoni rolls. Mouth watering with various cheeses you select.

  • Reply
    November 16, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Hey Tipper, here in my part of Okla, we don’t have anything unsual. I remember helping my grandmother pick poke in the spring, and our diary cows always found the wild onions. Makes you cry when you have to watch several hundred gallons of milk go down the drain. The Cherokee people celebrate Green Corn. They also grind hickory nuts into a paste, I can hardly pronounce the name of the dish much less spell it. lol. Have a good day. Terry

  • Reply
    May 23, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    I have never seen nor heard of ramps before. As kids my husband and his brothers used to pick wild asparagus in the banks of the creek along along the county road in Idaho where his grandparents lived. The two things I grew up picking each year were moral and calf brain mushrooms and wild mountain huckleberries. I still pick huckleberries each year. I go home to northeastern Oregon to do that because Western Oregon and Washington’s berries just do not taste the same. Something about the dry hot weather and high altitude gives them a much stronger flavor. I usually spend a long weekend camping by myself and just pick to my hearts content.

  • Reply
    May 19, 2008 at 10:11 pm

    okay, here’s one..have you ever eaten honeysuckle? When we were kids that used to be the candy on the table, big bowls full of honey suckle. You’d pull the flower off the long stem and suck on it…YUMM!

  • Reply
    May 19, 2008 at 4:22 pm

    Hi, I am glad you visited my site because I have really enjoyed my visit here. I have surely learned some things I didn’t know before, about ramps.
    I’ll be back.

  • Reply
    May 19, 2008 at 1:01 pm

    I’d never heard of ramps, but I’m all for anything that can be used in place of garlic or onions.

  • Reply
    Farm Chick Paula
    May 19, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Wow, Tipper- thanks so much for visiting my blog and leaving a comment… it’s so nice to meet you! You and I could be kin- not very many people understand our culture, do they? Have you ever been to the ramp festival in Cosby? I love ramps, but it’s hard to live with someone who eaten them for a few days, isn’t it? tee hee
    I love polk and scrambled eggs, too.
    I’ve enjoyed my visit with you.. I’ll be back again!

  • Reply
    May 18, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    I’ve never had ramps but I’ve heard of people who go out and find them and bring them home and eat them.. We used to have Poke grow down one side of our driveway years and years ago and the lady we rented the house from would pick Poke every spring. She always said you have to get it when it’s young because later on it’s poison. I have no idea if thats true because I was always afraid to pick it.
    People around here hunt sassafras root. It’s a great spring tonic for “cleaning out the cobwebs” in your body after a long winter. I buy some when I can find them and brew up sassafras tea. It tastes a little like flat rootbeer.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Thanks for visiting my blog! Love yours too! Well, learned something new today! I lived in NC and VA, but never heard of them!

  • Reply
    May 18, 2008 at 10:27 am

    wow! onion and garlic in one swoop how neat! i wonder if they would grow up here…can they be cultivated i wonder…we are diffenately on the way to canada! not only does the deer hunter find them, but he cleans them too it looks like.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Hi Tipper, found you comment on my blog. Thanks for stopping by! I just loved stopping by here and reading. Blessings, Kathleen

  • Reply
    May 18, 2008 at 1:33 am

    I have never eaten ramps, and I know being from WV,that I should have at some time or another. I have always wanted to though. I love onions and garlic. I remember seeing people on the side of the hill or on their way with shovel and bucket in hand. Maybe one day I will get to try them.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2008 at 1:07 am

    I had never heard of ramps until someone spoke of them a few weeks ago on another blog I read. I think she’s in West Virginia (Chickens in the Road). I’d love to try them some day.
    I can remember my mom and Nanny (Mom’s mom) picking poke salad from the sides of the road and cooking it, both in Oklahoma where we lived when I was a child, and later in Texas when we moved there in my teens. It was similar to other ‘greens’. I see it growing around here, but I’ve never cooked it myself.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2008 at 12:51 am

    I was in North carolina year before last and made a really tummy soup with ramps. The folks we were staying with said to go easy on them as they were “strong” but I didn’t think they were any stronger then garlic. Am I wrong? or do I just like garlic!
    I’ll try to take some picks of “miner’s” lettuce and our local wild onions for you.

  • Reply
    May 18, 2008 at 12:49 am

    I love your blog, I just never know what I’m going to find here..

  • Reply
    May 17, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    That sounds like lots of fun! I can’t think of any unusual foods around here – ramps sound good to me.
    I just tagged you over on my blog – check it out =)

  • Reply
    May 17, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    Sorry. Iowans don’t eat weird food. 🙂
    I do like my fries with Ranch and ketchup, melted mozzarella on top–YUMMERS!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 17, 2008 at 10:58 pm

    I never cared much for ramps. They are a little strong for me. My home is also in the big mountains of western North Carolina and I remember Polk Salad in the spring. When my grandmother talked about salad she did not mean Romaine Lettuce! She meant a mixture of cooked young greens in the spring, and that always included wild Polk Greens.
    There was also Branch Lettuce, which grew on the creek banks in the spring. We made wilted lettuce and onions—great with cornbread and salt pork.
    I have fond memories of both of these meals.
    There used to be lots of wild plants that were a regular part of our meals–lambs quarter, dock, creases to name a few. Of course that was before McDonald’s!

  • Reply
    May 17, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    Have you been to Suzanne McMinn’s blog Chickens In The Road? She has a section called the Farmhouse Table where she talks about wild ramps and the recipes she uses them in.
    Here’s the link right to the recipes:

  • Reply
    Bobbi in KY
    May 17, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    never had ramps myself-tho we have talked about going to the festival. Our area has been big on dry land fish (Morels) the last few weeks-they’re great deep fried.
    I do know my grandparents often talk about how bad the milk was when the wild onions came in the pasture tho!!

  • Reply
    May 17, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I’ve never heard of ramps. Fascinating! I wracked my brain trying to think of native New Hampshire foods — maple syrup and maple syrup candy and maple syrup snow cones are all I could come up with. I do remember my Dad getting out his jacknife to dig out “gum” for us from some kind of pine tree, but the details are long gone with him. It’s so nice you’re keeping your heritage going. A lot of our kids will wish we’d done the same.

  • Reply
    May 17, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Cool! Do ramps grow in northeast Georgia? My mother-in-law used wild onions in some of her cooking.
    I enjoyed my tour of your little piece of blog-land!

  • Reply
    noble pig
    May 17, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Well I’ve learned something new today. I’ve never heard of ramps.
    I don’t think we have any unusual foods in my area…it’s a growing area and there is lots of organic produce but nothing odd that you wouldn’t have heard of.

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