Recipe: Ramp Kraut
It’s no secret that we are hardcore crushing on ramps: They’re an adventure to find, native to our neck of the woods (literally), and they knock you out with their pungent garlic and onion flavors.
But these wild leeks are heartbreakers too. Their season is super short, and their fevered popularity has led to some pretty frightening harvesting practices that puts this wild crop at risk. If you are harvesting them yourself, we recommend using a foraging knife to harvest the leaves from the stalk, leaving one leaf on each plant and the bulb and roots in the ground so it has a chance to spread more tasty ramps. Be sure to only forage what you're going to eat (we recommend <10% of a patch) and leave the rest behind. The thing about ramps is that they are much better at spreading by bulb division than by seed, so the more bulbs in the ground, the more ramps the next season.
If you are lucky enough to have a good patch on private land like us (or a trusted sustainable source at a farmer's market) you can mix a few bulbs in there too, but this recipe works just as well using ramp leaves only. The garlic-heavy aroma of ramps pairs beautifully with the bright, crunchy cabbage base, and make for a fun update to the tangy depth you love in a good kraut.
Fermenting ramps helps stretch their lifespan, so you can be sure that you make good use out of every single ramp you pick. And layering them in-between kraut means that you are getting two ferments in one: crazy delicious lacto-fermented ramps, plus a whole bunch of ramp-flavored kraut to make those few weeks of ramp season last longer.
Clean ramps thoroughly and remove any roots (if using bulbs). For ramp sustainability we use mostly leaves (about 80%) with a few bulbs mixed in. The bulbs are super pungent so a few go a long way. This recipe is also great using only ramp leaves.
Remove and discard any outer damaged or wilted leaves from the cabbage. Reserve one large leaf. Quarter the cabbage and remove the core. Cut remaining cabbage into thin ribbons.
In a large mixing bowl, combine your shredded cabbage and salt. Massage the salt into your cabbage for 8-10 minutes, cabbage will soften and release liquid.
Add a 1/3 of your ramps to the bottom of your fermentation jar. Pack the cabbage into your fermentation jar tightly using your hands and pressing down with your fist. Halfway up add another layer of ramps. Add remaining cabbage and then top with a final layer of ramps. Add all liquid released from the cabbage.
Trim the reserved cabbage leaf into a circle (you can use the base of your jar or the lid as a guide). Place on top of the packed cabbage and then add the fermentation weight. You want the packed cabbage to be completely submerged when weighted. If liquid levels are low you can top with a brine by dissolving 1 teaspoon salt to 1 cup water.
Let ferment for 1 week at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Transfer finished kraut to jars and move to the refrigerator. Kraut will keep refrigerated for at least 2 months.
1 head green cabbage
1/4 pound ramps
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt