Ramps have a fleeting season, but if you're willing to pickle this awesome spring bounty then you can have ramps all summer long. CookingDistrict.com has a straightforward ramp pickle recipe right here
, but we also sell an amazing piece of kitchen equipment that speeds up the pickling process like you wouldn't believe. Of course, we're talking about the PolyScience 300 Series Vacuum Sealing System
. It has infinite uses in the kitchen -many of which we'll explore on Cooking District this summer- but ramp pickles happen right now, so this will be our first feature for the 300 Series Vacuum Chamber Sealer. By packaging the pickles under a strong vacuum, the brine penetrates the food product much more quickly. This sealer even has an advanced setting that will let you pull and hold a vacuum for up to nine minutes, and repeat the process multiple times to speed things up even faster.
Start by making your ramp pickle liquid ahead of time
. It is critical that it's very cold before it goes under vacuum. More on that later, but for now just cool it over an ice bath. Next, clean your ramps and remove their greens (use the greens for ramp pesto, sautée them and serve with anything, etc). Then quickly blanch the remaining bulbs until just tender and shock them to halt further cooking.
Once your ramps and your pickle liquid are both cold, you can fill your pickle containers. If you'll be consuming them in the next few weeks, sealing them in vacuum bags is just fine. If you plan on fully canning your pickles, then this step will help guarantee all of your jars seal.
To store your pickles in vacuum bags, fold the opening over and stand the bag upright in a container. For small bags, a simple drinking glass will work fine (see image above). Pack the bag with ramps, then add your pickle liquid. Remember- a little pickle liquid will go a long way here. But the liquid itself is as valuable as the actual pickles so don't be too stingy with it. Now ensure the opening of the bag is clean and dry, unfold it, then carefully transfer it to the chamber sealer. Place the opening along the sealing bar and set the Vacuum to 'Max,' and then press 'Start.' This is where it is critical all of your food product is very cold. As the pressure drops, so does the boiling temperature. Water will easily boil at room temperature if the pressure is low enough. You don't want that happening on your food, but if it's very cold it won't boil. If they're cold but you still see some boiling, you can chill them further or set a slightly lower vacuum.
Let the vacuum cycle finish -about 45 seconds- and then seal your vacuum bag. Date, label, and store. Your pickles should be ready in as little as a few hours.
There's no reason you can't use jars instead of vacuum bags. Fill your jars with ramps and pickle liquid, then set the lid without the the screwtop. Place it in the chamber sealer and run a full vacuum cycle. The vacuum will remove all of the air from inside the jar (as well as the whole chamber), and as soon as it lets air back in the lid will be sucked on to the jar. This is much more effective than traditional method of filling the jars. With that method you can try to create a vacuum by loosely fitting the lids and then heating and then cooling the water vapor inside the jar (in boiling water). There's always one or two jars that don't seal properly that way. Inside the vacuum chamber however, they seal every time. Once sealed, you can tighten the screwtop and sterilize the cans in boiling water with the appropriate amount of time (could be between 5-90 minutes, depends on the size and starting temperature of your jars). It's important to note that the pH of your pickles needs to be below 4.6 for this to be effective. You can use litmus paper with a small amount of pureed pickle product to know for sure.
Just like the pickles in the bag, these will be ready in a very short time. And the liquid has infinite uses as well- anything that can benefit from some sweet and sour zing will benefit from some of that liquid.
1 cup White Wine Vinegar
1 cup Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Mustard Seed
1 tsp Coriander Seed
1 tsp Fennel Seed
1 tsp Red Peppercorns
2 each Bay Leaf
Combine ingredients, bring to boil to dissolve sugar. Good for about 2# of ramps.
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