If you are in the woods these days you might notice the first large wild green of the season. The forest floor is still pretty bare, and these islands of green are really bright. It is a wild leek, or ramp, or wild bear onion (allium tricoccum). It loves shady wet areas. Smart bears love this plant, it fills them up with chlorophyll and vitamin C after the long winter’s nap. If you bite into fresh leaf the taste is intense – very distinctive of a fresh garlic. It gives us energy and shakes off the last tiredness of winter. All the spice in it improves appetite, blood flow and metabolism.
It is full of chlorophyll, the green substance that is the plants’ blood. Chlorophyll resembles our own red blood cells, except the blood has iron, and chlorophyll contains magnesium molecule. Hence the difference in color – red blood and green chlorophyll. So chlorophyll in leeks keeps our blood pure and clean. If you chew a leaf for a minute – your mouth gets a cleansing as well.
Four ounces of leeks contain a full daily recommended dose of vitamin C
Ramps are rich in vitamin A, which is important for formation of healthy teeth, bones and skin. It also supports the retina of the eye for strong eyesight and low light vision in particular. Four ounces of leeks contain a full daily recommended dose of vitamin C, which stimulates the immunity and protects us from colds. It also contains vitamin B6, iron, magnesium, vitamin K, folate and manganese.
That distinct strong flavor is due to allicin – antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal component of the leek. It turns to sulfenic acid, which neutralizes the body’s free radicals.
Today I was inspired to make wild leek pesto. I chopped up leeks (the leaves), added some walnuts (omega 3), olive oil, Parmesan cheese and blended until smooth. Seriously delicious. Wild leeks are excellent on a sandwich, in a salad, or potato soup. I try to harvest leeks sustainably, leaves now, and later on, when leaves fade, the bulbs are ready. I only take a few, and rotate the plant while harvesting, so that the roots are left staying in the ground.
Check out your woods now and see if you can spot this nutritious jewel of green. Or may be ramps are for sale at your local grocery store or farmer’s market. Enjoy this spring miracle.