Fiddleheads are called as such because they resemble the end of a fiddle. In fact, they are actually the tender unraveled stem and leaves of a baby fern. We eat the Ostrich fern. It can be found in Ontario in low lying wet areas near or in forests and tastes like a cross between asparagus and snap peas. Fiddleheads will not replenish themselves if you harvest the whole plant so make sure you leave some behind to grow for next year!
DON’T confuse them with the toxic Braken fern! If you find something that you think is a fiddlehead but it is greyish green in colour and is growing in a field or rocky area stay away! Alternatively, if you don’t feel comfortable picking them yourself , you can occasionally find them in the grocery store for a brief time each spring (although you’ll pay an arm and a leg).
Fiddleheads get me excited because they are straight from nature and are highly nutritious providing tons of vitamin A and niacin, some vitamin C; the minerals potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron, and the trace minerals manganese, zinc, and copper. Best of all they taste wonderful with butter, fresh lemon juice, salt and are FREE!!!!
Because they have a paper brown covering it must be removed by scraping it off with a small knife. (Even though my daughter does not look amused she actually was having a good time with her Grandma and Grandpa )
This time together is a great time for my parents to teach their grandchildren the lost art of collecting local edibles and preserving for the future.
After the paper husks are removed we rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse and then plop them in a sink of ice cold water to soak overnight.
In the morning we put a pot of water on the stove to boil and blanche in batches for 2 minutes.
We lay them out on a tea towel and let cool. Once they are cooled we divide into serving sizes, place in small freezer bags and plop them in the freezer. We will have wonderful greens to enjoy on a cold winter night.
You can’t get anymore LOCAL than that!