Thursday, April 2, 2020


A big driver to a lot of my riding these past few weeks has been to forage for ramps.

Baby rampies cleaned and ready for cooking accompanied by my most favorite beer. Mature ramps will have much larger leaves. While not pictured in this post, the ones I collected (in the bag in the last photo) are 2-3x as large as these!
On this night we had sauteed red potatoes and ramps, cheddar bay biscuits with ramps, and fresh caught brook and rainbow trout stuffed with ramps. Did we stink? Absolutely. Did we love it? You betcha.

Ramps are a wild leek native to Appalachia. If you're unfamiliar with them, they're basically the offspring of a green onion + leek + garlic. We LOVE them. And we've been cooking with them a lot during this time of quarantine. It's the perfect time to enjoy them, as they do make your breath absolutely foul and - if you eat enough of them - your sweat will share that foul smell!

My brother and his girlfriend digging for ramps. Will had done it before, but it was Leslie's first time! She loved it. 

One side of our mountain is an absolute treasure trove for ramps. There are literal ACRES of them. two of the other slopes also have patches, though they are not nearly as abundant.

Regardless of their location, however, each area is significantly lower in elevation than our house. It isn't the worst hike to get to the ramps, but to return home is a bit of a climb!

Enter: the horses.

The horses tied and waiting. You can also get a sense of how freaking steep this area is. Oh, and look closely for a Kenai tushy.

It's just shy of two miles to take the more meandering trek down to the richest ramp patch. There is a shorter approach, but it is steep AF, so I don't utilize it as often.

In past years, I wouldn't dig for ramps as often as I wanted to because of the return hike being such a bear. And often with my jam-packed schedule, I simply didn't have the time to hoof it down and back.

But now? Well, I've got nothing but time and I've also increased my horsepower threefold!

Meandering back up the mountain after fetching ramps

I've made weekly trips to dig ramps since early March. First with my brother and his girlfriend who fled NYC before the proverbial shit hit the fan, then with just my brother (this included a short stretch riding Staniel double which was hilarious - that horse is simply the greatest), and then multiple times on my own after my brother and his girlfriend took up quarantine residence in an even more remote place than my house.

It's been fun to head out with such purpose on rides. I get fresh air, the dogs get exercise, the horse gets exercise, and I'm able to collect some food for myself, my husband, and my senior neighbors who are hiding away in their house through these crazy times. (I dig ramps with gardening gloves and then bag them and throw them unceremoniously onto my neighbor's back porch. It's kinda fun.)

A bag full of ramps for us and my neighbors + Griffin questioning why I put him through such absurd tasks. I tell him he's just lucky I haven't started mounted archery or shooting. Though those options definitely aren't off the table for the future, hahaha.

Ramps are just the start of my foraging for the year. I'm looking forward to collecting chaga (a fungus that grows on birch trees that helps support a healthy immune system among various other ailments), fiddleheads, morel mushrooms if we can find them (will need to be at lower elevation), oyster mushrooms, lions mane mushrooms, chanterelle mushrooms, and various berries later in the summer and fall (blueberries, huckleberries, blackberries, and cranberries).

Our weather may be unpredictable and often wet, but boy does it allow for some delicious flora and fungi to grow! I'm excited to be able to take greater advantage of all the area has to offer in the way of foraging this year.


  1. Yum. I would trade you oysters and shrimp for some ramps and chantarelles. Do you guys have "sang" in your woods? ;D

    1. The postal carrier will hate us lol! But I could totally send you some ramps... My local PO is REAL TINY so it wouldn't be a big deal to drop down there some morning and ship them. I usually don't run into any people when we're not in a pandemic, so it would be pretty safe now, I imagine. Especially considering I wear gloves everywhere these days if I leave home lol

      And yes we do have ginseng! One of the world's experts on that species was a college professor of mine (and close friend) and oddly enough, I never learned to identify the species. He was so against its harvest (mostly because people over-harvest the hell out of it) that I really just lost any interest I could have had in finding/harvesting it.

    2. I wouldn't trust the PO with anything temperature dependent like oysters lol. We'll have to plan a person to person exchange in another year, when such a thing is possible and safe. What a strange thought...

      I've heard of murders and booby traps in ginseng rich areas because of overseas demand. There are folks trying to harvest sustainably, but it's hard to guard a whole mountainside...

    3. Ugh yeah, the sustainable harvest laws for most edible plants in favor round-the-world leave a lot to wish for. I'm grateful to live in a rural area where we largely don't have issues with over harvesting. I know it gets crazy in other places and it makes me so sad. You absolutely nailed it though - defending a whole mountainside would be nigh impossible!

  2. So cool! We have a few wild things I grab little bits of now and then from the forest beside us. Like you, I enjoy adding a bit more of a purpose to my outings by bringing back some (vegetarian) dinner! We don't have ramps here but the chive garden is prime right now has been getting raided heavily the past couple of weeks.

  3. This is so cool! We're coming on to morel season here... the search for them makes enjoying them even better!

    1. Our morels are a month out - I'll live vicariously through you until then.

  4. I wonder if we have these in the woods by our house. Map says yes, but I've never looked for them.

    1. They're some of the first significant greenery to pop up here. Very easy to ID, too. Love to grow in clumps on moist, but well draining slopes. Ours tend to favor the west-northwest facing slopes the most. Hope y'all can find some!

  5. Those sound delicious, what a haul! I don't know of anything like that here. We have a lot of mushrooms, but I can't get over their texture, blech!

    1. I hear you on mushroom texture! I was that way for most of my life. Then, I dunno. Something just changed. Still have a hard time with some of them. Fortunately a lot of what I forage for has non-portabello/button mushroom texture so it's way easier to deal with. The lionsmane is seriously like crab. If you blindfolded me and asked me what I was eating, I'd tell you crab or lobster! Chicken of the woods is also a big favorite of mine for it's atypical mushroom texture. It is really like fried chicken if you fry it! SO bizarre! (And delicious.)