Ramp season is so short! True connoisseurs already know this and plan accordingly, anticipating April and May well in advance of their arrival.
For new fans and procrastinators alike, there is still hope. Chef Paul Smith opened his series of “Let’s Get Cooking” demonstrations at Capitol Market this week with a host of ideas for extending the flavor of ramps well past their time in the sun.
Pickling is an obvious choice, and in a jar with pickled cucumbers, the strong ramp flavor is — if not exactly subtle — gentler. But there’s also ramp butter, ramp rub and ramp barbecue sauce, which can all offer a taste of ramps in the weeks and months ahead.
A few tips from the chef:
- If you dry your own ramps for the rub, you’ll need about a pound of ramps to yield a quarter cup.
- Use unsalted butter to control the amount of salt you want.
- Ditto for granulated versus powder garlic — the chef prefers granulated.
- If you’re cutting several items on a cutting board, cut the ramps last or expect everything to have absorbed the powerful, garlic flavor.
- Day-old coffee in the barbecue sauce provides enough bitterness to counter the sweet from brown sugar and ketchup.