Fiddlehead Ferns: Foraging Guide and Recipes
High in antioxidants. A source of omega-3, omega-6, iron, and fiber.
Said to taste like a cross between artichokes and asparagus with the texture of string bean, fiddleheads (named for their resemblance to the top of violin or fiddle) are actually the still curled branches or “fronds” of a fern. While fiddleheads are the only way you’d want to eat a fern, they aren’t just free eats, they’re a luxury food that fine dining restaurants pay top dollar for!
The type pictured here is the ostrich fern’s fiddleheads – the type most people think of when they think of fiddleheads, and the type I’ll be focusing on.
LOOK: Spring. Shady places – near rivers or well established hardwood forests.
COLLECT: Tips and stalks, but only the still curled fronds.
USE: After removing leaves from the stalks, both fiddleheads and their stalks can be prepared as asparagus can. Boiling, steaming, sautéing, and pickling are the most popular way to treat them. Purees can be made, but would sacrifice the striking looks of the vegetables. The stalk portion of the fiddleheads is apparently good eaten fresh, but even better cooked. Eating too many raw fiddleheads can cause an upset stomach.