Fiddleheads – The Unfurled Frond
In a world where we can get coconuts in Canada and strawberries in December there are only a few foods left that truly feel seasonal. Spring north of the 49th parallel brings maple syrup, ramps and fiddleheads.
Fiddleheads undisturbed grow into ferns. As Google so eloquently puts it, they are fronds of unfurled ferns. For many food foragers the annual pilgrimage to the country to find these delicacies occurs after the snow melts and usually before Mother’s Day!
Armed with a plastic grocery bag or bucket in hand, “fiddleheading (as my family refers to it) is as easy as finding a location with plenty of unfurled fronds and harvesting them.
- Fiddleheads can be tightly packed into the ground. You want to wait until their stalk has emerged slightly so you can break them off easily. Digging them out can damage the plant.
- Always leave a few behind so the plant can grow and produce again next year.
- Watch out for thistles. Bring a first aid kit and/or gloves.
- Store the harvest in covered buckets or plastic bags to keep them moist.
- To clean fiddleheads, pour them over an old sheet. Grab a friend and lift the sheet from both sides, tossing them gently. This will help remove some of the brown tissue like casing, and it’s really fun.
- Rinse them under cool water to remove any remaining debris. Some hand cleaning may also be required.
- Store in plastic bags. If you freeze them make sure they are dry first.
Fiddleheads contain protein, calcium, iron, potassium, vitamins C and A. Their bitter taste is a great stimulant for the liver and digestive system.
Once cleaned, the easiest way to prepare fiddleheads is to steam them gently and serve them hot!
To cut some of the bitterness you can toss the steamed fiddleheads in lemon juice and salt or (my fav) top them with butter and let it melt in slowly.
How do you prepare your fiddleheads?
Sarah Dobec – Holistic Nutritionist, Public Relation and Education Outreach Coordinator for The Big Carrot