May

So I have returned with another update for the Vegetable/Fruit of the month club. I would like to officially dub May as “LEEK” month, regardless of this vegetable’s ability to be harvested from mid-fall until early spring. Also, the true gems of the leek family that spring up (bad pun) around this time of year are their wild and crazy cousins, the Ramps. Although generally a rarity in grocery stores, due to price and their perishable nature, these vegetables are definitely worth a scavenger hunt around the city.

And to stay on track with last month’s post, here are some facts about leeks and ramps you might find useful:
image courtesy of www.finecooking.comLEEKS:
- Allium porrum, is a member of the onion family and a distant cousin of asparagus (both reside in the same Lily family as onions)
-Major commercial varieties available in Ontario are Pinola, Titan, Arkansas, Palino and Unique; all sharing the same characteristic white stem and blue green leaves
- Their flavour is less pungent than both onions and garlic with subtle sweetness
- Leeks are high in dietary fibre, folic acid, potassium, vitamin C and calcium
- They possess great diuretic properties and regulate cholesterol levels
- When choosing leeks, look for straight stems with a vibrant white colour free off blemishes. The leaves need to be green and the root fresh and earthy
- Best method for cleaning them is to trim away the green tops and slice in half lengthwise. Run each half under cold water while spreading apart the layers

photo courtesy of www.thesustainablekitchen.comRAMPS:
- Found in groups in mountainous regions, these perennials have smooth, light green leaves with deep purple or burgundy tints on the lows stems. Their bulbs resemble those of scallions and the plant gives off an odor similar to garlic
- Ramps are such a delicacy that West Virginia is renowned for its yearly celebrations and festivals (they even have a National Ramp Association)
- Wild leeks are a threatened species in Quebec and are actually protected under the Quebec legislation not allowing a person to be in possession or harvesting more than 200g (or 50 plants). This status also prohibits commercial transactions so you’ll never find them in restaurants in the province unless they’re brought in from Ontario (where we just don’t care)
- In order to clean ramps, cut off the roots and rinse thoroughly while scrubbing away any excess dirt on the bulbs
- Since they’re only available for a short period of time, the ramps can be stored in the freezer and used again for soups or stocks (however, they lose most of their nutritional benefits through this process). Also the dried and finely chopped leaves of ramps can be used as any other dry herb seasoning

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