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.*

Preparing fiddleheads
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.

Cooking fiddleheads
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.

3 thoughts on “Fiddlelicious

  1. Ah!!! Excellent information. I did the first bit – but didn’t know they took this long to cook. I sauteed mine without the blanching and they are really good – but the blanching would definitely help. Or, I can see how freezing would work instead of that, and then sauteeing. I have used them in salads, cold, too – and love them. I took half of mine to mom and dad – and, they? Not so much.
    Why don’t Edmonton readers comment on our hard work? I know a billion people read what you write. I am shocked this had not one comment. That drives me nuts. It’s not that we do it for praise – but, for the love of the food – and to learn and to have a conversation about it. Surely, all those that have read this before me had a response. Did they swallow it? 🙂

    • I actually know some of the people (or heard about people from friends) who read my blog regularly and they never comment. It’s not always people’s cup of tea, unfortunately. We’ll just have to talk to each other instead!

      I wonder if your parents cooked it long enough? If the bitter taste isn’t cooked off properly it can really turn people off.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s