This hot and tangy relish is a tasty way to preserve the wild foraged goodness of ramps so you can enjoy it all summer long! Ramp and Hot Pepper Relish is also versatile! Slather over hot dogs and burgers, make a quick tartar sauce for Maryland crab cakes, add it to potato salad, Pimento cheese deviled eggs and so much more!
Why This Recipe is a Keeper!
If you're fortunate enough to live where you have access to ramps (also known as wild leeks or Allium tricoccum) then you know what all the fuss surrounding this foraged bulb/root is about.
Ramps have a very short spring growing season and once they're gone, they're gone. You can either enjoy them all at once or in various ways over a short period of time, or you can preserve them in this sweet, spicy and tangy relish to enjoy all summer long!
This Ramp and Hot Pepper Relish recipe is:
- Easy to make.
- A creative, tasty way to preserve the foraged goodness of ramps.
Let's make it!
What are ramps?
Ramps are the “holy grail” of foraged food and are highly prized among foraging enthusiasts. They’re a member of the onion family and related to leeks, scallions and shallots. They resemble a scallion at the bottom but have edible, green leafy tops. Their flavor is unique–oniony with a hint of garlic.
This wild spring delicacy grows in cool climates in rich loamy soil and grows very slowly, taking upwards of six to seven years to flower and reproduce. Ramps are mostly available across the Eastern mountainous United States however, they’ve now spread to northern Wisconsin and Canada.
Ramps are available from early April into mid-to-late May. Growers are now cultivating them so their availability is increasing. If you purchase ramps/wild leeks from a professional forager, make sure they're using sustainable foraging practices and not over-harvesting.
The tops of wild leeks are great for pesto and braised or sauteed like any other green.
How to Make Ramp and Hot Pepper Relish:
Here’s everything you’ll need to make this ramp and pepper relish recipe along with how to prep. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.
- Ramps: Choose ramps with healthy-looking dark (but not too dark) green leaves. The leaves should not be wilted and the 10-14-inch long stalks should be thin rather than thick. Thin stalks are more tender. It's very important to clean the ramps well as they can be muddy.
- Fresno Chiles: Fresno chiles look very much like jalapeno peppers. They start out green but as they turn red they turn hotter.
- Serrano Chiles: Serranos also look like jalapenos but are hotter. They're named for the mountain ridges in Mexico where they originated. In addition to Mexican cuisine, they're also used in Southeast Asian cuisine.
- IMPORTANT: Most of the heat in hot chiles is in the seeds and membrane, so if you don’t want that much spice, remove them. I highly recommend you wear gloves when handling hot peppers and avoid touching your eyes or other sensitive areas.
- Mustard Seed: Use brown or yellow mustard seeds.
- Pickling Salt: Also known as canning salt, pickling salt is pure granulated salt with a fine texture so it dissolves faster in brines. It doesn't contain any anti-caking agents or additives which are traditionally added to table salt. These additives are left out because they can add a cloudy appearance to pickle brine. You can also use kosher salt in this ramp and hot pepper relish recipe.
- Gather and prep all the ingredients.
- If you haven't already done so, wash and clean the ramps well.
- Whisk the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and spices together in a non-reactive pot such as stainless steel or enameled cast iron. Bring to a boil and let simmer on low heat until the sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
- Working in batches, place the ramps in a food processor and process until finely chopped. Doing small amounts at a time allows you more control and you can see exactly how chopped the ramps are.
- Transfer the ramps, red bell pepper, Fresno and serrano chiles and garlic to the simmering brine. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and let cool. Place in a quart-sized jar and refrigerate for up to 3 months.
- For longer-term storage, transfer to two sterilized pint jars or several half-pint jars. Place lids and rims on the jars then process in a water bath for 10 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions:
After removing the roots, every part of the ramp is edible–from the small white bulb that resembles a spring onion to the large green leaves! Make a pesto or saute the greens. Serve the greens in an omelet, quiche or alone as a side dish.
You can freeze ramps, but they’ll need to be blanched first. Blanch the ramp bulbs in boiling water for 15 seconds before plunging them into an ice-water bath. Blot them dry, then pack them up for the freezer. Frozen ramp bulbs can be used to make this ramp relish but you may want to hand-chop them as they'll be softer.
For more great pickled vegetable recipes:
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Ramp and Hot Pepper Relish Recipe
- 1 cup white distilled vinegar
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons pickling salt - or kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons yellow or brown mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon celery seed
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 pound ramp bulbs - (1 pound after tops and root ends are removed), washed well
- 1 large red bell pepper - seeds and membranes removed, finely chopped
- 1 Fresno chile - finely chopped
- 2 Serrano chiles - finely chopped
- 4 large cloves garlic - minced
- Whisk together the first seven ingredients in a non-reactive pot such as stainless steel or enameled cast iron. Bring to a boil and let simmer on low heat until sugar and salt are completely dissolved.
- Working in batches, place the ramps in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
- Transfer the ramps, red bell pepper, Fresno and serrano chiles to the simmering brine. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let cool. Place in a quart-sized jar and refrigerate up to 3 months.
- For longer-term storage, transfer to pint or half-pint jars, place lids and rims on the jars and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.
These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you're using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
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