Fiddlehead ferns

Edible Harvest: Fiddleheads

To me the arrival of spring means two things: Asparagus and fiddlehead ferns. If anything, the appearance of fiddlehead ferns is even more fleeting than that of asparagus. How so? Let me tell you. Fiddlehead ferns, which are the newly unfurling fronds of the ostrich fern, are only edible while they are fiddleheads. Once they turn into proper fronds they’re history at least when it comes to being edible, so at most, fiddlehead ferns season lasts two to three weeks.

Foragers who gather fiddlehead ferns are like those who hunt for truffles--minus the pigs. They roam the woodlands searching for these delicacies and are reluctant to disclose their whereabouts once found. Of course here in northern New England, they are not difficult to find in either the woods or in the regular supermarket. In other parts of the country are not quite so lucky. You may need to visit a gourmet grocer to find these delicacies. Some say they taste like asparagus. I have a hard time describing the taste other than it’s green, wild, and woodsy. You’ll have to try them for yourself.

Fiddlehead ferns must be eaten fresh, don’t let them hang out in the fridge for more than a day. To prepare fiddlehead ferns, wash them in cold running water and remove the brown papery bits. The easiest and (I think) tastiest way to cook fiddlehead ferns is to sautee them in butter and season with lemon juice or apple cider vinegar to taste. You can also stir fry them with a bit of ginger and scallion or boil them for a vinaigrette salad. Bon appetit!

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