I love eating wild food like fiddlehead ferns. While all whole foods are filled with a spiritual energy, the life force of foods growing wild in the forest are especially powerful. Eating wild food connects us to the natural cycles of nature. They are full of nutrition and provide subtle emotional balancing. Since there is a strong connection between our mind and emotions and the way we feel physically, eating wild foods supports us on all levels; body, mind and spirit.
Fiddleheads are a fleeting spring treat. I remember the excitement in my restaurant every year when they arrived from the farmers market.
They are sometimes considered magical. In the Shakespearean drama “Henry IV, Part 1,” Gadshill the thief talks of magical properties of “fern-seed” being cause to render him invisible.
They are essentially the tightly coiled frond of a baby fern. The name comes from the scroll at the end of a violin. If left on the plant, each fiddlehead would unroll into a full sized fern.
You can forage them from moist and shady areas, such as near rivers or streams, typically starting in April or May. Be careful though as some fiddlehead ferns may be toxic. It’s the ostrich fiddlehead fern you are looking for. I buy them from the farmers market, but I fantasize about foraging for them in the forest. Maybe one day.
They have a very short season, which is why they are often expensive.
If you haven’t tried them before you are in for a treat. Fiddleheads taste green like the moist forest of spring. They are somewhat like a cross between asparagus and string beans. Incredibly delicious!
This wild edible vegetable is packed with iron, omegas, antioxidants and fiber. They are full of the exact microbes we need to support our digestive system this time of year.
Fiddleheads should be eaten shortly after you bring them home. If you have to store them, keep them in the fridge wrapped tightly in a paper towel, placed inside a plastic bag and use them within a couple of days. They won’t spoil quickly, but they will lose flavor and firmness.
Fiddleheads have a brown papery skin that must be removed before eating. It’s best to rinse them first and then place them in a bowl of water and rub to remove all of their papery-like coverings.
I like to blanch or boil my fiddleheads first to remove any bitter taste. After draining and drying, I sauté them in olive oil with a little garlic and a squeeze of lemon. Sometimes I sprinkle red pepper flakes for a little spice or top with a light tasting herb like dill or parsley. They make a nice side dish or appetizer.
Once cooked, they can be added to a salad or stir fry.
Take a walk on the wild side and get some fiddlehead ferns as soon as possible, they will soon be gone.Print
This simple sauté highlights the fresh green flavor of the fiddlehead ferns and includes a savory taste of lightly browned garlic.
- 2 cups fresh fiddlehead ferns
- 1 tablespoon butter or ghee
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
- Celtic sea salt
- black pepper
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Trim the dark ends off the fiddleheads, some of them may not need this.
- Place your fiddleheads in a colander and rinse or spray them with cold water. Then place them in a bowl of water and rub to remove all of their papery-like coverings. Drain and rinse.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook fiddleheads in the boiling water until barely tender, 3-5 minutes; drain and pat dry on a kitchen towel.
- Heat butter or ghee and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the prepared fiddlehead ferns. Cook and stir until ferns are tinged lightly brown and around the edges, about 3 minutes.
- Add garlic, salt and pepper. Cook stirring constantly until the garlic is fragrant and just lightly brown.
- Remove from heat and sprinkle with lemon juice. Serve warm.