Fiddleheads, the unfurled baby fronds of the ostrich fern, are named as such because they look like the curled head of a violin. They have a very short season in the spring so if you see them, grab them while you can. They taste a little like asparagus, but look so unique that they make a nice change on the plate. They’re also low in calories and are chock full of vitamins.
I first tried fiddleheads on a trip to Saint John, New Brunswick around this time 10 years ago. I had never heard or seen of them before and was quite surprised to have them served at dinner. They were delicious and different and I was intrigued. They were boiled, then tossed with vinegar.
Now that I’ve cooked them on my own, I tend to prefer them with a bit of lemon juice instead.
*Warning: fiddleheads must be cooked thoroughly before eating as raw or undercooked fiddleheads will taste bitter and may cause stomach problems.*
Choose green fiddleheads that are tightly curled. Keep them refrigerated until you are ready to cook them.
Carefully brush or cut off the papery brown scales on the outside and trim the tail end to remove any brown ends (which are caused by oxidation).
Wash the fiddleheads in a bowl of clean water several times to remove any dirt or lingering scales until the water is clear.
Boil the fiddleheads in a pot of salted water for 10-15 minutes, or steam them for 20 minutes. Drain, and serve with melted butter/margarine and lemon juice and zest, or vinegar.
You can also sauté fiddleheads by blanching them in boiling salted water for one or two minutes prior to sautéing.
To freeze fiddleheads for future use, blanch them in boiling salted water for two minutes, then drain and shock them in an ice water bath and freeze. To cook them again, thaw them and boil for 10 minutes.
You can basically replace fiddleheads for most recipes that use asparagus. Cook them simply, or experiment with this unique green.