living underground in the real world

no white boys (but everything smells like wild onions)

It’s official: I am five weeks behind on my New Yorkers. If you’re waiting with anticipation for the New Yorker stats, kindly wait a little while longer. The kitchen is so lovely though!

Also, ramp season is over and asparagus, radish, and greens season is in full swing in my part of the world.

Did you make ramp pickles? Rick made some that sound divine. Lacking much time but with a whole lot of miscellaneous weeds/herbs*/greens** from the garden/yard and the 9 or so lbs of ramps I couldn’t resist buying even though I took the week off from cooking***, I made a quick-and-dirty ramp kimchi.

From left: comfrey leaves, not-great wild chives, sorrel, and garlic leaves

I have no compunction about calling my pickle kimchi even though it contains no ginger or hot chilies, because the world of kimchi is giant and varied (fish head kimchi, anyone?), and to me anything hugely stinky of scallions and garlic is kimchi.

Technically kimchi is made by immersing cabbage in brine overnight then draining it. The overnight soak is meant to break down cell walls and kick start the fermentation, but because ramps are so leafy and more watery and easily fermented than cabbage, I made the kimchi like sauerkraut, just chopping the ramps coarsely, washing them (always wash greens after chopping them, you know that trick, right?), and tossing them with sea salt, weighting and covering them, and done. The next day I pushed down on the weight to make sure the brine had risen above the greens, and that’s it. There it sits. I’m too lazy to take a picture, but it looks like a lot of greens with a weight (a mortar and pestle) on top in a big crock.

Did you know you can pickle ANYTHING (except ripe tomatoes) like sauerkraut? Sandor Katz told me that, and he was right.

Nine pounds of fermenting ramps greets everyone at the door with a wall of practically visible, eye-watering wild leek smell waves, but it will go into the fridge in a few days and I will get the last laugh when I am mixing delicious wild-crafted ramp-and-foraged-greens kimchi with rice all year long for the best five-minute dinner in the world.

These are 2005’s ramps (and lilacs) – this year’s were much skinnier, with almost no bulb. I think that might be because my forager (a sweet high school kid – no, this is his first year in college! My, how they grow up! – whose mom taught him to forage and who now makes a nice business of it for one month every year) forages in three or more secret ramp fields in the Catskills – maybe these came from a field of thick-bulbed ramps that he has been letting rest for the past few years? Maybe these were from much later in the season? The mysteries of ramps are many.

_____

*Including garlic leaves – did you know that if you stick a clove of garlic in the ground and forget about it, for many years to come you will get edible garlic leaves every spring? I just learned this two years ago, and it still blows me away.

**I also tossed in a lot of sorrel, which grows so well in my garden and I never do anything with it except force guests to eat a leaf because I like watching their faces. Poor poor sour sour sour sorrel.

***For some reason I feel compelled to link to my professional site every time I mention cooking or work in any form, I bet it’s annoying for the three of you who regularly read the old blog…

2 Responses to “no white boys (but everything smells like wild onions)”

  1. ruby

    I’ve never made it, (and I’m sure you already know this because I’ve seen it in the states now and then) but sorrel is used to make a really popular delicious drink where I’m from. People sweeten it, but I prefer it pretty sour. I’m think it’s the same plant as mainland sorrel.

    Reply
  2. lagusta

    Heya Ruby! Good point! I have ordered sorrel drinks in Jamaican restaurants because I really like sour things, but they are always cloyingly sweet. I never thought of making my own – what a great idea.

    Reply

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