Where to Get Fiddleheads and Why You Should Eat Them
Fiddlehead season has arrived! You might be wondering where to get fiddleheads, or even what fiddleheads are.
No, they are not a bluegrass band.
We’ll show you how to identify fiddleheads, where to find fiddleheads if they grow near you, and there are even a couple of recipes you can try, further down.
What Are Fiddleheads, and What Are They Good For?
For those who are unaware, fiddleheads are a Canadian delicacy (although they can be found in certain northeastern US states and sparsely, elsewhere). They are the tightly curled edible tips of the ostrich fern growing in the woods. Their season is short, so people scramble to get them.
Fiddleheads might look a bit weird, but they are nutritionally dense and loaded with antioxidants.
Some describe the flavor of fiddleheads as a blend of asparagus, green beans, and broccoli.
How to Identify Fiddleheads
Fiddleheads can be identified by the brown, papery, scale-like covering on the uncoiled fern and a deep u-shaped groove on the inside of their smooth fern stem. They appear in clusters on the banks of rivers, streams, and in the woods in April through June. Select small, firm, bright green fiddleheads with no signs of softness or yellowing. They should be picked when still tightly coiled.
One note of caution – other similar types of ferns such as foxglove and bracken are not safe to eat. Do your homework.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Fiddleheads?
These guys are highly nutritious and rich in omega-3 and 6, iron, fiber, and potassium. In fact, this frond has the most complete fatty acid spectrum of any edible green plant. They play a roll in reducing inflammation, managing cholesterol, and improving memory.
Fiddleheads contain many vital nutrients that our bodies need, such as copper and iron, for the production of red blood cells.
Another benefit of eating fiddleheads is they contain manganese, which is required for the production of enzymes that control blood sugar and thyroid function.
Zinc is another mineral provided by fiddleheads, important for growth and protein creation. These green coils are an excellent source of vitamin A, which reduces inflammation and macular degeneration, Vitamin B, which helps to prevent arterial buildup and improves circulation, and Vitamin C, which supports the immune system.
Besides being delicious, fiddleheads have some medicinal uses. Gargle with boiled fiddleheads to alleviate sore throats. Apply them to skin wounds and boils. They are great for skin health, as they are an antioxidant.
How to Prepare and Cook Fiddleheads
Be very sure when preparing your fiddleheads for cooking that they are properly done.
Carefully remove any papery brown scales. If not using immediately, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to three days. If you wish to freeze them for later use, blanch them in hot water for two to three minutes and then immerse them in ice water for two minutes. Drain them to remove excess moisture and allow them to dry slightly before placing them in a freezer bag where they will keep for several months.
Can You Eat Fiddleheads Raw?
Do not eat fiddleheads raw. The after effects can be mild discomfort to serious illness. Always boil or steam them. They are delicious roasted, grilled, boiled, or sauteed but must be boiled for a few minutes first. They can be a welcome addition to any vegetable dish or enjoyed alone with butter, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and garlic. They have a wonderfully unique flavor and are well worth seeking out.
I am borrowing some words of wisdom and a couple of recipes from Chef Shane Mallory of Gulliver’s World Cafe in New Brunswick just to put “icing on the cake” so to speak.
Fiddlehead Fritters with Tangy Crema Sauce
- 1/2 tbsp. Onion powder
- 1/2 tbsp Garlic powder
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/2 cup corn flour
- 1 tsp. Baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. Salt
- 1 1/2 tsp. Sugar
- 1 cup cleaned and cooked fiddleheads
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/2 a lime
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- pinch parsley
- vegetable oil for frying
Combine dry ingredients in bowl. Whisk egg and milk in other bowl. Whisk both together until smooth. Cover and chill for thirty minutes.
Cook fiddleheads for 15 minutes and then cool in an ice bath. Chop in half. Prepare crema sauce by combining sour cream, parsley, and a squirt of lime. Mix fiddleheads into batter. Heat two inches of vegetable oil in large pot until 350 degrees. Carefully drop heaping tablespoons of batter into the oil. Fry, stirring occasionally until golden, about eight minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet using a slotted spoon. Let rest before serving.
- 1- 9×12 sheet store-bought puff pastry
- 1/4 cup alfredo sauce
- 1 egg yolk
- 24 cooked fiddleheads
- 2 tbsp. Bacon bits
- 1/8 cup sauteed mushrooms
- 1 cup grated mixed cheese (mozzarella, havarti, parmesan)
Thaw puff pastry, Prepare and cook all ingredients. Preheat oven to 450F. Unroll pastry on parchment -lined cookie sheet. Fold edge of pastry sheet by 1/2 inch and crimp with fork. Brush crust with beaten egg yolk. Spread alfredo sauce over pastry, then bacon, then mushrooms. Spread cheese evenly. Spread the fiddleheads in rows until pastry is covered. Cook in oven for 10 minutes. Let rest a few minutes before cutting and serving.
OK, OK I can hear your protests already. “These recipes are not dietary. They do not all consist of homemade ingredients. You said…..”
Well, in my defence….
Ummm…you are correct. But we’re talking fiddleheads here. They are only available for a very short period of time each year. Feel free to
substitute any ingredients you wish. And these guys are sooooo healthy and soooo tasty that they are worth it. Just for this short time in the spring.
Let us know what you think.
Where To Find Fiddleheads
If you are wondering where to get fiddleheads, they may be available fresh for purchase in markets in your area during the short season in which they grow, or you can buy them pickled or frozen. Just search the internet for “where to get fiddleheads near me”.
You now know how to identify fiddleheads. If you do live somewhere where fiddleheads grow, and are adventurous, look for them in remote, marshy areas amidst dark soil, leaves and twigs.