Text and photos: Anna Plaszczyk

15 October 2016

Rich in vitamin C and bactericide. At the same time aromatic and very tasty - ramson, although the one growing in the wild is protected, still we can buy or grow it in our own garden. It is worth doing so - it is also recommended by bears, because after waking from hibernation they add it to their menu.

Ramson has antibacterial properties, it stimulates the secretion of bile and gastric juice. It is full of vitamin C. It has similar properties as garlic. In Poland, for centuries it has been used to treat colds and upper respiratory infections. Due to this reason, in 2004, it gained partial protection of species ( it is not allowed to collect it on a wild positions) and in 2006 – it was added to the Red List of plants and fungi in Poland. Fortunately, you can buy ramson bulbs even in supermarkets specialized in building and gardening. Ramson does not have any special requirements, except of homous and rich soil. It is also fully frost-resistant.

Ramson grows in deciduous forests, mainly in the mountains and foothills. It spreads amazingly easy and it creates fields even several kilometres long. However, its leaves are often confused with poisonous lily of the valley by the untrained collectors. This is another reason why it is not worth the risking illegal picking wild ramson in the woods!

Unfortunately - aromatic leaves of ramson lose part of the flavour after boiling or drying up. Therefore it is the best to store it in the freezer, in oil or just... pickle them like cucumbers! It is the best to pick leaves for pickling in April. In May, when the plant begins to bloom - leaves are getting stringy and tasteless.

Łukasz Łuczaj, an absolute hero of Polish survival cuisine, gives a recipe for pickled ramson in the book: Wild edible plants in Poland. Survival guide:

The leaves prepared for pickling should be washed gently and put quite tightly in litre jars and from time to time salt should be added (2 teaspoons of salt per 1 litre of water). At the top we leave 2 cm of space, pour hot water (but not boiling!), we should get rid of remaining air from the jar and then we twist it on. We put it for 2 weeks in a cool place. After this time, the leaves are pickled and ready to eat. They can be, like cucumbers, pasteurized and stored for months.

Ramsons can also be perfectly kept in oil. It is important to put completely dry leaves to the oil. Approximately 30 leaves per 1 litre of olive oil. The oil prepared this way can be stored in a closed jar for a month. At this time, we decant the oil. The leaves can be used for soups or salads. Olive is a great addition to salads and dressings.