Thursday, May 12, 2011

Wildcrafting fiddleheads

Before we moved the farm, I'd heard lots of foodie hubbub about the deliciousness of fiddleheads, but never had the opportunity to taste them. Turns out we're sited on a treasure trove of these coveted wild edibles.

This springtime delicacy is actually the unfurled head of the Ostrich Fern (a telltale feature is the papery chaff) and can be found in woodlands or in our case, in the ditch along the road that fronts our farm.

While it's possible to buy fiddleheads at some farmer's markets (for as much as $6.99/lb), they're largely a foraged and wildcrafted springtime treat. If you're lucky enough to find some, be sure to only cut two or three fronds per plant.

The fiddlehead has a very short season -- less than two weeks, I'd say, before the frond uncurls completely and becomes inedible.

But when harvested young, the fiddlehead has a taste most often compared to a combination of asparagus, broccoli and green beans with woodsy undertones. Packed with vitamins A & C, these green gems are good for you, too!

Preparation is simple: rinse the chaff off the greens in cold water. Due to some reported cases of foodborne illness from eating raw fiddleheads, Health Canada recommends steaming or boiling before eating.

While many folks treat fiddleheads like any other kind of greens -- think stirfries, quiches and salads, for starters -- we like the quick and easy approach: I boiled this batch for 3 minutes, dumped the water and then steamed for another three minutes before tossing with some butter and dusting with salt & pepper. Delicious!


Mr. H. said...

Thanks for the information on fiddleheads, we have considered foraging for them but always seem to time it wrong...perhaps this will be the year we try them.:)

Erin said...

You got quite a bit, awesome!

Fiona said...

Mr. H -- you're welcome! You're always sharing such great information with your readers, it's a pleasure to be able to give back a little!

Erin -- we've got loads more, too! But the season is so short -- they're unfurling as we speak! I might try and freeze some as I'd like to trying them in a quiche next.

Vintage Witch & Little Scotia said...

Oh Fiona, you are so LUCKY! Fortunate? Blessed? To be sitting on such a treasure trove. I love fiddle heads, and they ARE expensive if you go out and buy them.

There were a few of my friends on Facebook this week who were asking if anyone knew a good place to go and pick...

..As if anyone else would TELL. haha.


Fiona said...

Lori -- yes, folks are quite attached about their fiddlehead sources, aren't they? We caught the former owner of our farm harvesting them just out front -- two years after she sold to us! lol

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