Ramps are only in season for about a month or two, but there are a few ways to preserve them so you can enjoy their flavor all year long. My favorite long-term preservation technique is making ramp compound butter and storing it in the freezer. The ramps, locked inside the confines of the frozen butter like Han Solo in carbonite, are essentially stored indefinitely, capturing the "rampy" essence of early spring at any time of year.
The most common compound butter is beurre maitre d'hotel, or hotel butter, composed of shallots, garlic, fines herbes, lemon zest, salt, and pepper; the recipe that follows is a variation on this theme. Generally used for broiled or grilled meats or fish, hotel butter functions as a sort of flavor-inducing sauce. You may find a slice of it sitting, slowly melting, on top of a steak in your steak frites.
Ramp compound butter is great in a pinch, as you can easily pull a log out of the freezer and cut off a slice or two. It's especially good on pasta, in a risotto, or—my preference—tucked underneath the breast skin of a chicken. If you can keep it until fall, it works great under the skin of a Thanksgiving turkey. Don't delay—ramp season is short and is almost over.
Dirty, dirty ramps.
The ramps are cleaned and then blanched, ready to be chopped.
Ramp butter mise en place.
After mixing, about a 1/2 pound of butter per roll will do.
The compound butter is rolled up tight.
- 1 1/2 pound ramps, trimmed and cleaned
- 4 pounds unsalted butter, cut up and at room temperature
- 2 lemons, zested and juiced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Thyme (optional)
Trim the ends off of the ramps and clean them well under cold, running water.
Blanch them quickly (30 seconds) by dropping the ramps in a large pot of salted, boiling water, and then shock them in ice water.
Drain the ramps, squeezing as much liquid out as you can. With a sharp knife, thinly slice the ramps.
In a large bowl (or Kitchenaid with a paddle), mix well butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, ramps, salt, and pepper.
On sheets of parchment, form logs of butter of approximately 1/2 pounds each, and roll the parchment tightly around the butter.
Put the butter logs in two sets of freezer bags and seal tightly, removing all the air, and store in the freezer.
Parchment Paper (or wax paper), freezer bags
As an alternative to using parchment, you can use all the leftover butter wrappers to make small logs. Plastic wrap or wax paper can be used as as well.