It must be spring when the forest floor is dotted with wild leeks! The cool spring this year has meant the leeks are starting later and staying longer which is great for we foodies.
Wild leeks, commonly called ramps, are of the onion family. They are easily spotted in forests and fields. The plants have distinctive elegant bright green leaves and bulbs that look like green onions but smell like garlic. They have strong roots which means a shovel makes foraging easier.
Once cleaned, wild leeks have many culinary uses. The bulbs and leaves are edible. Try a sauté, braise or stir-fry. They are delicious any way, cooked or raw. I make Wild Leek and Potato soup and freeze it for a cold summer vichyssoise or warm winter soup. The bulbs freeze well but don’t forget the leaves. Throw them in the food processor and add a bit of water. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze for a bright addition to a winter soup, stew or sauce. Pickled wild leeks are amazing too. To store fresh leeks, wrap in paper towel and put into freezer bags in the fridge. Don’t bend the leaves as they bruise easily. Make sure the bags are sealed or the entire fridge will smell of garlic!
Wild leeks have been over harvested to the extent they are becoming endangered! Take no more than 20% of any cluster of leeks. If you’re heading out to forage for wild leeks put on your conservation hat and then enjoy these precious gifts of nature.
For recipes/info: Martha Rogers