I love spring in the area of Slovakia where I live, in the Malé Karpaty. The forest bursts into life, with bird song and greenery (post coming soon on the amazing flower explosion in spring).
Ramsons, or bear garlic, is a wild garlic related to the North American ramps. I haven’t actually tasted ramps, but I’ve heard that they are stronger than ramsons. They carpet the forest floor (like here), verdant and lush.
Many Slovaks pick wild bear garlic, although when I asked a friend what they do with them she said mostly chopped on bread. I made a great soup with nettles, but I didn’t get a picture. They make an ah-mazing pesto with nettle (recipe) and I collected 12 ways to use ramps.
The last time I went picking, the flower buds were just starting to come out. I immediately thought of fermenting them.
Now, I love foraging, I can pick hoards of edible weeds and greenery. And I have great ideas of what to do with them. The problem is, it doesn’t always get done, sadly. But I did get these fermented ramson flower buds made, partly because it’s so easy.
I was a little worried that there wasn’t that much bubble action. The buds start out bright green and turn a not so lovely browny green. But when I opened up the jar, it was perfect.
A little crunch but not too much. Garlicky but without the edge that raw garlic has. I ate a bunch just popping them plain, but they are also good in a salad or as a condiment with rice or other grains. In fact, my oldest daughter ate a bunch by themselves.
If you don’t have ramsons around, you can also use the flower buds from ramps or chives.
Fermented Ramsons Flower Buds
- ramson flower buds (or chives, ramps)
- filtered water
1. Pick flower buds and rinse if dirty.
2. Mix a 2% brine of water and salt. That means for 500 ml of water, you will want 10 grams of salt. For 2 cups of water, 9 grams of salt. The amount of brine you make will depend on how many flower buds you have.
3. Put flower buds in a jar that is slightly bigger than the amount of flowers. Pour brine over flowers until covered. The flowers need to stay under the brine - I did this by folding a bear garlic leaf overtop and putting in a champagne cork. I'm not sure it worked that well. Close the lid.
4. Let sit and ferment. I kind of lost track of time, but I think I left these to ferment for 10 days on the counter and then I put them in the fridge. Check on yours to determine how long you want to ferment them.
5. Eat the goodness.
Salt: preferably use salt without any flow additives added, as regular table salt does.