Rampin’ up to Spring

Wild Leeks in Bowl

We’re excited for the spring and all the fresh new produce we’ll be growing and getting this year. One of the more exciting but lesser known native Ontario crops comes right at the beginning of the growing season. Wild leeks, or ramps, are a North American native member of the allium (onion) family. They are more often than not the first budding plants in their region for the year, so the best time to spot a patch is by looking around soon after the spring thaw. Since these guys are so delectable, with a mildly onion-like but very distinct flavour, they are unfortunately over-harvested. This combined with their long gestation / maturation time – a wild leek plant takes a few years to settle in – means that you should only ever pick a few at a time, and the largest ones in the patch at that. If you should be so lucky, clean them up and separate the tops from the stems. The tops make a wonderful pesto, and the stems can be sliced and lightly cooked to add a wonderful springtime “onion/garlic yet not” flavour to almost any dish. Alternatively, pickle the stems for a snappy crunchy snack. We owe it to these plants to enjoy them in moderation, though, or we won’t be enjoying anything at all. Just remember the best things come in small doses!