Have you seen fiddleheads at your farmer's market or in the grocery store and thought... What are fiddleheads? Are they safe to eat? How do you cook them? What do they taste like? Good news, I have all of those answers for you and more!
So just what are Fiddleheads anyway?
Fiddleheads are the curled up tips of young ostrich ferns, which grow wild in northeastern parts of the United States and in Canada. They are harvested for use as a vegetable and are a popular delicacy that many people look forward to each spring. Grab them while you can because they are only available for a short period of time each year!
What do Fiddleheads taste like?
Some people say that fiddleheads taste similar to green beans, spinach and broccoli. I would say they are most like asparagus. When cooked properly they are tender and delicious with a sweet, earthy flavor.
Why are they called Fiddleheads?
These uniquely shaped vegetables are named fiddleheads because they resemble the curved ornamentation found at the head of a fiddle and other stringed instruments.
Are Fiddleheads healthy?
Absolutely! Like most vegetables, they are low in calories and fat and are packed full of nutrients. Fiddleheads are a great source of potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Are Fiddleheads safe to eat?
Fiddleheads have been consumed for hundreds of years and are considered safe if cooked properly. Health Canada recommends boiling them for 15 minutes or steaming them for 10-12 minutes prior to eating, sauteing, or adding them as an ingredient to other recipes.
Undercooked fiddleheads may cause symptoms of foodborne illness, which may include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or headache. Never eat them raw! Boiling them also leaches out the tannins so they are not bitter.
Although you could forage for fiddleheads yourself in the forest, it's best that you leave this up to the experts. There are many other types of ferns out there that are poisonous and carcinogenic.
How do you cook Fiddleheads?
First, rinse them well and trim off the ends.
Next, you will place them in a large skillet and add water to cover. Simmer covered for 10 minutes. Place them in a colander and drain. Add the fiddleheads back to the skillet, add oil and spices, and saute for about 5 minutes.
Sauteing is a simple way to cook fiddleheads, and I've included some flavor variations in the recipe card below. If you want to be more adventurous, consider adding them to a frittata or stir-fry.
For the fiddlehead fanatic, you may even consider checking out the book: Fiddleheads and Fairies: Fiddlehead Recipes.
Here are some other of my sensational sides which you may enjoy:
- Chickpea Salad
- Mashed Cauliflower
- Grilled Sweet Potatoes
- Pecorino Romano Risotto
- Roasted Carrots with Dill
- Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- Fiesta Corn and Avocado Salad
- Quinoa Salad with Cumin and Lemon
Fiddleheads - a Delicious, Spring Delicacy
- Large Skillet
- 1 pound Fiddleheads
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- ¼ teaspoon Salt
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- Rinse them well and trim off the ends.
- Place them in a large skillet and cover with water.
- Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Place them in a colander and drain.
- Add the fiddleheads, oil, salt, and pepper to the skillet and saute for about 5 minutes.
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder or 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- a dash of red pepper flakes