I love wild leeks – so much that I`m going to risk repeating myself by pleading with you to only harvest or purchase them sustainably (I`ve promised myself that I`ll put this disclaimer out there each time we post about them). Once they are harvested they do not grow back. Picking less than 5% of remote patches is the general barometer of sustainability.
Ramps are almost a combination of onions and garlic. The bulbs are generally preserved via pickling (and I adore them – especially with old cheddar). I adore me pickles but I wanted to try a different take – and something that will leave the flavors closer to the original so that I can use them through the year.
We washed them, sliced them super thin (when the ends got too close to my fingers to cut comfortably, we tossed those in sherry vinegar to infuse flavor) and placed them in the dehydrator at a super-low 95 degrees (standard would be about 130). I am very curious as to the shelf-life of these as the temperature seems awfully low but the end product seems perfectly dry and I`m glad we didn`t go any hotter. I will report back on this post in several months to see how things progress but I am very happy with the results. An absolute key was slicing them thin and drying for a long time (about 18 hours in total). The lower temperature came because we were drying herbs at the same time.
The end result are wonderfully crispy, pure white rings of rampy-goodness. I could eat them just like that but am looking forward to cooking with them and eating them with old cheese and on top of sashimi.
If there`s a downside to this technique it`s that a lot of ramps make a very little amount of dried slices (the flip side is that a very little go a long way). We`ll share what to do with the greens tomorrow.