What’s the difference between Ramps and Ramson? I do my best to sort out the confusion over what the difference is between Ramps and Ramson, keep reading.
Ok, this could get a bit confusing but lets try to figure out what the difference is between Ramps and Ramson. Now this is quite confusing especially in the days of the internet where foodies all over the world brag about eating this great vegetable. Sometimes they are called ramson, sometimes ramps. They both look more or less so what is the difference?
Ramps are American, Ramson are European
That is about it if we want to keep things simple.
Ramps or Allium tricoccum in latin is the North American wild onion species.
Ramson or Allium ursinum is the European and Asian variety of wild onion.
Allium is the genus for monocotyledonous flowering plants. In english it more or less means onions. All sorts of onions like garlic, shallot, leek, chives and hundreds of others.
But there are some other names
The problem is that we rarely call things with their latin names and to make things more complicated what we do call them are very similar, ramps or ramson. Plus they are very similar in all the ways that matter, size, taste and texture.
To make it even more confusing people in both Europe and America keep calling ramps and ramson with other names like wild leek, wild garlic, bear leek, broad-leaved garlic, bear’s garlic, buckrams and wild onion. So that does make it less confusing.
And the many names for it goes back a long time. In Wright’s English Dialect Dictionary from 1904 they list the names rame, ramp, ramps, rams, ramsden, ramsey, ramsh, ramsies, ramsy, rommy and roms (via Wikipedia). But there are some good news, the word Rams is used in Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany so hopefully you’ll be able to get what you’ve ordered at the local restaurant.
Ramps or Allium tricoccum
Ramps or Allium tricoccum in latin is the North American wild onion species. Ramps can be found on the east side of North America, from Quebec to the southern US coast. Ramps are considered a delicacy in both Canada and the US and there are even a risk that the ramps popularity may threaten it. In some parts of Canada it is illegal to pick ramps and they are protected in parts of the US as well.
The ramps are still very popular and there are a number of ramps festivals held in West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee during spring.
Ramson or Allium ursinum
Ramson or Allium ursinum is the European and Asian variety of wild onion and it is widespread in most of Europe. Since the ramson looks very similar to the flower Lily of the valley which is poisonous there is a number of people getting poisoned due to picking the wrong kind each year.
Ramson is very popular among both restaurants and foragers during spring, if you know where to find them then get out there and get some.
How does ramps and ramson taste?
Taste wise there is not much that separates ramps from ramson. Thin green leaves and an edible flower and small bulb. All can be used. The flavor is often described as a mix between garlic and chives. The texture is similar to fresh tender spinach. It can be used both as a seasoning or a vegetable and pairs great wherever you would use spinach.
How to serve them
I love to quickly sautee them in butter and serve with meat but the pair great with salads, fish, eggs as well. For more creative uses check out any top restaurant this time of year where you are bound to find them being served, at least as long as they stay trendy and available.