July 9, 2003 at 12:50 pm #654
Brenda Collins DillonParticipant
All my life I have heard about RAMPS. It is not a wooden deck that you launch your boat off of …it’s a wild vegetable. My stepfather use to rave about these vegetables.
Ramps and Wild Leeks are the same plant, a type of wild-growing onion generally presented fresh with the green leaves attached to the small white bulb.
Ramps and Wild Leeks are distinguished primarily by growing in different regions. Where they are found growing in the Appalachian range they are known as Ramps. Harvest in this region typically begins around the middle of April. A few weeks later they are harvested in the Great Lakes region where they are called Wild Leeks. There are slight differences between the products in that the Wild Leeks generally have a larger bulb and a slightly milder flavor, especially in the leaf portion.
Where Ramps grow they are the healer, solace and friend to Mountain Folks. Ramps are folk medicine said to keep away cold, flu and the neighbors! They are Spring Tonic personified. And they are STRONG!
In Appalachia Ramps have a stinky reputation. They are known and loved (or hated) for this powerful aroma.
In the Mountains of West Virgina Ramp Festivals sprout up to celebrate. Whole towns get together and stew up a mess or eat them raw. Halls are filled with folks feasted on Ramps, Dancin’ and Stinkin’. One prominent Ramp party is the Elkins City Annual International Ramp Cook-Off and Festival.
In the North people call them Wild Leeks. While the taste is the same, somehow in the north Wild Leeks never stir up quite the trouble that Ramps seem to.
The folk medicine reputation which holds both Ramps and Wild Leeks to be powerful healers turns out to be well deserved. They are high in Vitamins C and A, and full of healthful minerals. And they have the same choloesterol-reducing capacity found in Garlic and other members of this family. At Oregon State University research is going on to examine the cancer prevention capacity of Ramps and Wild Leeks.
The Season for Ramps & Wild Leeks typically runs April 1 – May 31: begin with Ramps for about 3 weeks and then shift to Wild Leeks.
Every April Richwood West Virginia has a Ramp Festible and people come from all over the country to celebrate the comming into season of the ramps. Anybody else crazy about these veggie’s?July 9, 2003 at 12:50 pm #13153
Hay Brenda, Have you ever eaten any ramps ? My husband has a patch, and once a year, I have to cook them with potatos. Good thing we don’t have any neighbors LOL .
CheekisJuly 9, 2003 at 12:50 pm #13158
Brenda Collins DillonParticipant
I must say..I have never but my stepfather raved about them. I think he would prefer a big batch of ramps over moms apple pie. Of course I would take the pie……I didn’t like the smell.
BrendaJuly 9, 2003 at 12:50 pm #13173
🙂 Thank you for the info. This is quite interesting. I’ve never heard of Ramps. So, they have an oniony flavor? We have wild onions and wild Garlic here they sprout up looking like a small clump of chives. The Onion is quite good, subtle. I love learning about edible and medicinal uses for wild plants. I have several books on them, but when i buy books I always get books for this region. So it is good to get some info. from back your way.;) Thank you so much! Love & Light, Lynella.July 9, 2003 at 12:50 pm #21661
This is a really old thread, but since nobody mentioned it (in 2003-05) I just want to point out that there is a long-running annual festival in Cosby, TN that is dedicated to the cuisine of the ramp.
I was actually searching the forum to see if anybody had discussed the word “Ramps” as interchangeable with the word “Melungeons.” Only two messages seem to have done so; and the context seems to indicate that “Ramps” is a more local (and perhaps more insulting?) term. I’ve heard it in SW VA, and in east TN — and the people using the term weren’t applying it to themselves.July 9, 2003 at 12:50 pm #21784
From Pat Elder’s “Melungeons: Examining An Appalachian Legend”,
“Folklorist Saundra Keyes Ivey said they were called “Ramps” in Virginia, not Melungeons. Ramp festivals, however, are still held in southern Appalachia. Local people of every ethnic origin use ramps as a flavoring agent much as others use onions or garlic. It is doubtful historical Melungeons were the only ramp users.
Regardless of its origin, the word was used to socially separate a particular group of people from the general population. They were distinguished from other mixed-race groups by their location, a few representative surnames, and no claim-of-affiliation to any recognized Indian tribe. Neighborhood gossip inferred Negro admixture in some lines but Melungeons denied such ideas.”July 9, 2003 at 12:50 pm #21786
Since Saundra Keyes was a friend of ours (and a fellow folklorist) some 33 years ago, I Googled around to see what has become of her. She got into journalism in the 70s and has had a distinguished career as a reporter and editor at the Nashville Tennessean, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and the Honolulu Advertiser (and perhaps other posts, that I didn’t read about). Only a month or two ago she left her editorship at the Honolulu paper for a teaching position in Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno.
I don’t know whether she has retained any interest in the Melungeons, but at the time she wrote her dissertation, it was about the most substantial source in that field.July 9, 2003 at 12:50 pm #21795
Some like ramps cooked in with their scrambled eggs.July 9, 2003 at 12:50 pm #25904
Ramps are a traditional Cherokee food, too, at least in NC.July 9, 2003 at 12:50 pm #25923
Two years ago, I had no idea what a ramp was…that was until I traveled to WV. to meet my aunts for the first time…as we drove by this this building by the side of the road…the sign said ramp burgers?? I asked my aunt what it was, and found that they are a wonderful wild onion, kind of a delicacy in those parts. Unfortunately, they were not open for business, I would have liked to try them.:)July 9, 2003 at 12:50 pm #25935
My parents, both born in Wise Co, VA – Mother a Mullins and Father a Collins, loved ramps. So much so, that after moving to FL in the late 1940’s , my Mother grew a patch of ramps ( or possible the milder form of them ) in our back yard. That and wild mustard….we used these often in salad and for seasoning. All of us kids grew up eating them and I must say I liked them! Wish I could grow some today.
I asked my Mother ( now deceased) in later years about the term Ramp’s being used to describe Melungeon’s while she was growing up, and she said NO! I also asked my 3 Uncles , my Father’s brother’s who were still living at the time and none of them recalled hearing that name used to refer to people, but all recalled the eating and liking of ramps. My Uncle Orlando Collins tried to show me some when I was in KY the last time, but it was too early in their growing season to see. They grow wild in his side yard.July 9, 2003 at 12:50 pm #25936
PBS had a special on Ramp Festivals about a month ago….it was very interesting…I think I could get into that…I love greens of all types. And the sides looked pretty good, too. I got tickled when a man was asked why he was only buying a small bunch….his wife wouldn’t let him have a big bunch…it made him stink too bad……..gotta be akin to a chittlin’ strut, huh???? Maybe one day we can make to one of these festivals and give a personal view…..meanwhile, I’ll keep eating my greens and beans.
BeckyJuly 9, 2003 at 12:50 pm #25937
I can’t find the particular program that I saw, but, here’s one festival that was featured:
5/6/2007 – 5/6/2007
Live music and entertainment featuring ramps – a naturally grown wild onion. Sponsored by The American Legion.
19 S Main St
Waynesville, NC 28786
11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
American Legion Field
Business Phone: (828)456-8691
GeneralContact: American LegionJuly 9, 2003 at 12:50 pm #26532
This might not be such a great question but, has anyone tried to grow “ramps” commercially?July 9, 2003 at 12:50 pm #26550
“This might not be such a great question but, has anyone tried to grow “ramps” commercially?”
Tom– if so, someone should let me know. I have to mow more often because they stick up higher than the grass.
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