A ramp (wild leek) trip!
My sister and I are from the Montreal, Québec area, both retired and in our 60's.
We love eating ramps (also known in the US as "wild leeks"; here in Quebec, they're known in French as "ail des bois". Scientifically, they're called Allium Tricoccum).
As far back as we can remember, our family has enjoyed foraging for and eating ramps, in season. We'd have these huge picnics, maybe 20-30 people, on Mother's Day, at one of my uncles' brother's farm where we ate smoked meat sandwiches and ramps.
So my sister and I, having probably too much time on our hands for our own good, decided to make a trip to the US specifically to eat ramps.
We will be travelling from April 24 to May 4 and have rented a motorhome for that purpose.
At this stage, our itinerary would have two legs: from Montreal, down the western part of NY (through Syracuse) and PA (through Pittsburgh) states to West Virginia (maybe as far south as Richwood, WV); this leg would take 3-5 days. Then, for the second leg, cutting across through Albany, NY, we'd take maybe 3 days to go from Rutland, VT back to Montreal.
(By the way, this is the reason I'm posting this message in both the "Pennsylvania" discussion and the "Northern New England" discussion).
Our objectives for the trip are:
1- Eat ramps, eat ramps, eat ramps.
2- If possible, do some foraging (for ramps) ourselves.
3- We both love food and would like to sample local specialties along our route.
4- Maybe meet other ramp maniacs in person.
5- Visit points of interest along our route.
Do we really have to go as far south as Richwood, WV to find plentiful ramps?
I suspect that ramps are fairly abundant in western NY and western PA. If that's the case, how realistic is it to think that we could forage for ourselves? I mean: given a promising area, is it sufficient to ask permission of the owner of the land? Are such permissions usually granted? Is foraging on public lands (parks?) allowed?
Finally, we welcome all your suggestions regarding must-eat foods (NY-style cheese cake, shoo-fly pie and Cabot extra sharp cheddar are already on the list).
Of course, if fellow CHers were to point out specific areas for ramps, points of interest, etc., we'd be very grateful.
Thanks for your attention!
Change of plans!
We canceled the reservation for the motorhome! Reason? Not enough campgrounds open in late April along our route! We would have had to stay at Wal•Marts... My sister was really not looking forward to this...
So, it'll be hotels for us. First stop: Syracuse, NY. Then, Bradford, PA (site of the annual Stinkfest). We'll be too early for this year's Stinkfest, but I figure that where there's a stinkfest, there's bound to be stinking ramps!!!
I dug a mess last night. I grew up in Western North Carolina and moved to western Massachusetts a couple of years ago and was amazed at how easy they are to find in these parts—they are literally visible from the Mass Pike. If you go out into the woods for them do be aware of the deer tick situation. Lyme disease is no joke.
I’ve tried on–and–off to find buyers but you apparently have to be in the guild or something to unload any. *shrug*
Nice pic, but they look awfully small... So the season is still early, I suppose.
I'm joining a picture of some ramps that we are growing; this was taken on April 16.
By the way: do you eat the leaves as well as the bulbs? Do you eat them raw (that's the way we eat them)?
It’s all relative, probably. Where I’m from in Western North Carolina ramps of that size would be practically out-of-season. Here’s a photo of me in a ramp patch yesterday taken while I was hiking with a friend to give you an idea of where they are growth-wise down this way: http://flic.kr/p/bAtYbN
I don’t not eat raw ramps, but I primarily eat them cooked (but not with squirrels’ brains like my grandpa does!): http://flic.kr/p/bPbekM
They tend to grow near streams in sandy soil and grow in all the lower 48 though most common in the eastern third.
Foraging of any plant or mushrooms is not legal in most parks. Some states( RI & ME for sure) have ramps under protective status so check first. They are much more prolific south of the Mason-Dixon line.
You will be contending with lots of Mosquitoes, Black flies and other annoying to painful critters. Do be very concise of Deer Ticks with can carry Lyme's disease and are tiny.
Most folks are friendly about allowing people on their property, but do get permission first.