Ransoms have a relatively short but usually bountiful appearance during Spring. I’m lucky enough to have them growing in my garden, so have a plentiful supply for the kitchen. (I threw some seed collected on a foraging trip a few years back into a dedicated patch in my the garden and hey presto, the next year I had my own ransoms patch, which has been growing ever since!). The green leaves start to appear in February / early March offering fresh wild garlic for your recipes. Young leaves are best, but the older larger leaves work well chopped and stirred through pasta sauces just before serving. You can add the young leaves to sandwiches for a garlicky note. They are equally delicious finely chopped and added to mashed (creamed) potato or use them to infuse oil, blend into mayonnaise or blitz to make pesto. In April & May, the white flowers can be picked as a delicate garlic addition to your salads. I try to leave plenty of flowers to go to seed, to be harvested, dried and added to my pepper grinder. In fact every part of the ransom is edible. Lift the bulbs in the Autumn for your recipes, a great way to ensure your ransom patch doesn’t stray into others areas of the garden. IMPORTANT: Some plant bulbs are poisonous, so you must ensure that you are 100% certain you are harvesting ransom bulbs or don’t attempt it, it’s not worth the risk. Just use the leaves, flowers and seeds.
As I like to make my own butter, ransoms provide the perfect addition for delicious homemade wild garlic butter. I like to scatter the butter onto vegetables freshly picked from my veg patch, rinsed, wrapped in greaseproof paper and modestly steamed in the oven.
Making butter from double cream is so easy peasy, especially with the whisk attachment on your stand mixer, but an electric whisk will work just as well.
So I guess we’d better get on with it then ….
For 300g ransom butter and 250ml of fresh traditional buttermilk you will need.
- 600ml double cream
- salt to taste
- handful young freshly picked ransoms leaves finely chopped (No ransoms, just substitute leaves with a bulb or two of minced garlic)
- 1 litre fridge cold water (approx)
Here’s what you do:
Pour the double cream into your mixer with whisk attached (or in a bowl if using electric whisk). Start on a slow speed until the cream starts to thicken.
Increase the speed and continue to whisk the cream. It will continue to thicken and solidify and look a bit like pale scrabbled eggs.
After 5-10 minutes the cream will start to separate into small yellowy solids (your butter) and whitish liquid (your own traditional buttermilk for baking). Reduce the speed but continue to whisk until the solid have created a more sold lump (usually around your whisk attachment!).
Strain or pour off the buttermilk into a jar or bottle and place the butter solids into a large bowl. It is important to remove the remaining buttermilk by washing the solids with fridge cold water. Pour water over the butter and press the butter quite vigorously (I wear food-safe gloves for this stage) or you can use a spoon if that’s easier. Discard the liquid and repeat the washing 2-3 times or until the water runs clear.
Add salt to taste and a handful of chopped small (young) ransoms leaves and work it through your butter. Using a piece of cling film roll the butter into a sausage shape.
Replace the cling film with greaseproof paper and store your homemade butter in the fridge. I think the sausage shape makes it easier to slice off sections for cooking. If you want to use the butter for making sandwiches or garlic bread, leave your butter (or butter slices) out of the fridge so the butter softens to room temperature.
Of course you can omit the salt and the ransoms leaves completely or add any other flavours you fancy such as unwaxed lemon peel, fresh herbs, minced ginger or chilli working it through the butter before rolling into shape.
Impress your friends at your next dinner party or BBQ by serving homemade herb or spiced butters and you don’t always need to work your flavourings into the butter. Roll out your butter between two pieces of cling film, remove the top layer but don’t discard it, you will be using it again soon. Sprinkle your herb or spice flavourings evenly across the slab of butter.
Replace the top layer of cling film (butter side down) and use your rolling pin to gentle press your flavourings into the butter. Remove the top layer of cling film, roll the butter tightly into a sausage shape.
Replace cling film for a greaseproof wrapping and store in the fridge until required. Serve your herby butters whole or in slices.
Don’t forget to use your fresh homemade traditional buttermilk for breads, cakes, pancakes, marinades or to quench your thirst! If you can’t use it straight away, don’t panic, it should keep a few days or so in the fridge