Spring is a bountiful time in the wilds of the outdoors. It seems that everywhere you turn there is a new morsel or yummy treat literally popping up out of the ground everywhere.
Check any of the local produce hot spots and you can surely find a mess or two of freshly dug ramps. These wild onions are definitely an acquired taste, but one that is definitely well known all throughout Appalachia.
Now is the time if you are a ramp lover. We are smack in the middle of prime ramp digging season. Just as the old adage says, “you better git while the gittin’s good.” These treats of the wild won’t be around long.
That might be a good thing for those who are not aficionados of the spring herb. The ramp has a bit of a reputation for having a memorable odor and a lingering one at that.
This might explain why ramp festivals are so popular. Who would dare complain about the odor of cooking ramps while at a festival to celebrate it?
One such celebration is set to be held on April 23 in Huntington. This local get together to celebrate the wild plant is affectionately dubbed Stinkfest. With a name like that who wouldn’t want to attend?
There are several other such festivities planned all around state at venues such as Camp Creek State Park, Glenville and Richwood just to name a few. A quick internet search will certainly give you a full calendar of places to enjoy the savory stinker.
Hot on the heels of the ramp is another forest favorite, the morel, possibly best known as the Mollie Moocher. The dry land fish has just as many, if not more, fans as its predecessor. Many hours are spent each spring roaming the hills and hollows looking for this wild mushroom.
Mollie Moochers are definitely worth the effort and there is a fine art to finding the short lived fungi. A few warm spring days and a ground soaking rain are key ingredients to get the mushrooms above ground and ready for the picking.
One trick when you are out looking for these hidden treasures is that when you find one, there will almost surely be more close by. Remember where you found them in the past, too. When conditions are right, they will pop up year after year in the same areas.
These perennial mushroom hunting grounds are often a closely guarded secret among the morel faithful. Ask a dedicated shroom hunter where his go-to spot is and you will likely have better luck getting him to give you his favorite turkey call or fishing lure.
Speaking of turkeys, with the season just getting under way, what better spring table fare to go with your ramps and morels? Spring is definitely a smorgasbord of the finer eating Mother Nature has to offer.
Oh wait; we haven’t even mentioned a fresh mess of rainbow trout, yet. Can spring get any better? There are just so many choices to make when it comes to the delicious edibles this time of year.
So if you will pardon me, I am going to stock up on some flour, a few sticks of butter, and of course some salt and pepper, then I am going for a walk in the woods. I might take my fishing pole or trusty shot gun just in case I run into a rogue Tom Turkey or a babbling brook full of trout.
You never know what you might run in to in the spring, so a true outdoorsman must be ready for anything. Anytime you can get outdoors and end up with a full belly, then it has been time well spent.
— Roger Wolfe is an Outdoor Columnist for Civitas Media. He can be reached at [email protected]