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Freshly picked ramsons, Allium ursinum

Almost every year I pick ramsons in the wood and pickle them in salt, as I learned Siberia. They use a different species, alpine leek (Allium victorialis), but I know that in the European part of Russia they like to use ramsons, and the result is hard to tell apart.

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Chopped ramsons

When picking ramsons, take only the leaves, so the bulb can survive. In Siberia, where people forage in the deep forest, they are most particular about only taking the leaves, leaving the onion, and only some of the leaves, to let the plants grow on, and tolerate another picking the following year.

First I chop the leaves, then I weigh them, and add 2-4 grams of salt per 100 grams of ramsons.

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I use a tool or my hands

The chopped and salted ramsons will now be squeezed, so that the cell walls are broken apart and the juice becomes visible. I started out using a wooden pounder, but it came to my mind that I always end up using my hands. It’s faster, easier and more comfortable by hand, but I could not take a photo at the same time. After this process, the leaves have become quite dark and covered with its juice.

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Salted ramsons packed airtight

As with sauerkraut, the ramsons must be packed airtight. I used a zipper-lock plastic bag and apparently it worked great. There was less residual air left than when I pack in glass. But the very next day I had to recognize that plastic bags are not aroma proof. The whole fridge smelled intensely of ramsons, even on entering the house you could notice the smell of ramsons.

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Cheremsha – salted ramsons in small glasses

The solution was to pack the salted ramsons in small roe glasses. Now they can be stored in the refrigerator without any leak of aroma.

I call the result for Cheremsha (Черемша in Russian), as they name it in Siberia. The aroma is even stronger than in the fresh ramsons, so a little goes a long way. The intense chemical sense on opening a glass should not upset you, as it is how it should be. Once it gets mixed with sour cream or other ingredients, the wonderful flavour comes out, a true delicacy. Cheremsha is also used in meatballs and other recipes with minced meat.
I think the salt pickling process enhance the umami component in the taste of ramsons.

Where I pick my ramsons?
It’s a secret, but I can reveal, that they are very common in woods around Copenhagen – just keep off my little spot of ramsons ;-)

Here’s a YouTube from Khabarovsk in Siberia (jump 2½ minutes ahead):


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