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Take It Easy on the Spring Ramps and Fiddleheads

Back in my early days of cheffing–in the mid-late 1980s–there were only a few of us who foraged and bought food from foragers to prepare in our commercial kitchens. We were a colorful club: mostly foreigners, sons and daughters of foreigners, or offbeat chefs like me who read and learned of such treasures in well worn books like Gastronomique, James Beard's American Cookery, Fanny Farmer, Ma Cuisine...

Fast forward 30 years. Now foraging is fashion and every chef worth his cool in every city NEEDS ramps and fiddleheads. So PLEASE abide by these guidelines, or you will be part of wiping them all out!

Don't over harvest. We need this year's plants to make next year's harvest! With ramps, pull no more than 25% of what you find. If you want to use the greens and pink stem, you can clip up to 75%, but always leave a lot behind to propagate. If you are just a buyer and not a forager, ASK YOUR FORAGER if they are harvesting sustainably or raping the woods. Sounds ugly, right? Ramps are getting scarcer due to the trendy demands, but they can be cultivated given the right conditions.  Google that.

Fiddleheads? Clip above the ground and leave half of what you find, or else this will all be just another a chapter in food history...

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