Wild Leeks in Leelanau!

Here’s some of a Wild Leek feature originally published on eatdrinkTC.com. You often find these oniony treasures when you’re morel hunting. Leeks are in the woods right now, and we’ve heard reports of MORELS out there as well!!

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Wild Leeks by CherryCapitalFoods

Whether you know them as ramps, wild leeks, spring onions or by their scientific name of Allium tricoccum, ramps are a wild onion with a delicious & pungent garlicky flavor. Wild leeks are found from as far south as Alabama all the way up into Canada. To the south, they are more commonly known as ramps while in the north, wild leek is more common. Wikipedia’s page on Allium tricoccum says that “ramps” comes from the English word ramson, a common name of the European bear leek (Allium ursinum) that is related to our American species.

Laura and LeeksIf you’re wanting to harvest leeks, be aware that cannot harvest them in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore due to park regulations. The same goes for Leelanau Conservancy natural areas! Your best bet is on your own land or a friends or Michigan State Forest or Park lands.

Regarding harvesting, Ramp-age at the Earthy Delights blog says:

Good ramps or wild leeks should have two or three whole bright green leaves with the small white bulb attached by a purplish stem. The leaves are generally about 6 inches long, although ramps tend to be harvested at a somewhat earlier stage than are wild leeks. Depending on where you get them, ramps or wild leeks may be still muddy from the field or all cleaned and trimmed. The key is that they be fresh. Yellowing or withering in the leaves is a sign that they have gone too long.

A papery wrapper leaf (and some dirt) may surround the bulb and should be pulled off as you would with scallions. Trim away any roots along with their little button attachment. The entire plant is now ready for eating.

Once ramps / wild leeks have been cleaned, store them in the refrigerator tightly wrapped to keep them from drying out (and to protect the rest of the contents of the fridge from the heady aroma). They should keep for a week or more, but use them as soon as possible after harvest.

Handful of Wild LeeksSome wild leek facts & lore:

  • Leeks were prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans and were especially revered for their beneficial effect upon the throat. The Greek philosopher Aristotle credited the clear voice of the partridge to a diet of leeks, while the Roman emperor Nero supposedly ate leeks everyday to make his voice stronger. (World’s Healthiest Foods)
  • The name of Chicago originates from “Checagou” (Chick-Ah-Goo-Ah)means “wild onions” in the Potawatomi language. The area was so named because of the smell of rotting marshland and wild leeks that covered it. (Earthy Delights)
  • Wild leeks are high in Vitamins C and A, and are full of healthful minerals. And they have the same cholesterol-reducing capacity found in garlic and other members of this family. (Earthy Delights)
  • The entire plant is edible and leaves, especially when young, are delicious when sauteed. (my kitchen)

View this photo background bigtacular and see more in Cherry Capital Foods’ Spring Hollow Farms slideshow.

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