Growing up, my dad used to love fiddleheads in the spring. I was a pretty adventurous kid, I liked most veggies and I thought these unique springtime delicacies were rather tasty. So when I saw packages of fresh fiddleheads at the market, I thought I’d better grab ’em. My dad would have been all over that.
In case fiddleheads are foreign to you, I’ll educate you on the wonders of this woodland treat. Fiddleheads are the unfurled fronds of the ostrich fern. They are aptly known as fiddleheads because they resemble the turned head of a fiddle or violin. Depending on the weather, they begin to pop up around late April to early May along river and stream banks, in open woodlands and at the edges of swamps and marshes across New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario in Canada and Maine and Vermont in the US. They have a short growing season and should be harvested when just a few inches off of the ground when they are still tender and tightly coiled.
Fiddleheads should be cleaned well, trimmed and cooked in lightly salted boiling water for 10 minutes (or steam for 20 minutes.) Health Canada advises that fiddleheads should be cooked thoroughly before eating. Consuming raw or undercooked fiddleheads may cause digestive upset. They are delicious drizzled with a bit of olive oil or melted butter and a squeeze of lemon. I gave them a quick sauté with garlic and olive oil for this meal.
Fiddleheads are loaded with healthful properties: antioxidants, vitamins (especially A and C), carotenes, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to name a few. These facts alone should be merit enough. Fiddleheads might be compared to asparagus in taste, but with a crunchier texture.
The flavour and texture may not be palatable for everyone; but like my dad, I look forward to their fleeting appearance.
Try them…you just might like them.