Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Heads up on Fiddleheads

My foraging for fiddlehead ferns this year was limited to the grocery store. When last I attempted to procure some of these New England springtime delicacies for my cooking pot I didn't realize that the coiled-up new growth of several different varieties of fern can be eaten, but that many varieties are inedible and may in fact be poisonous, so I was a frustrated forager.

This time a survey of my two competing supermarket chains a few weeks ago turned up a small amount of fiddlehead ferns at $4.99 a pound. They had already been wrestled out of their fuzzy jackets and are so beautiful with their architectural lines and cool green color, that I had to buy some to cook up for a lovely supper side dish.

I got a pot of salted boiling water going at full tilt, and then steamed the fiddlehead coils for ten minutes, until they were fork tender. I then served them simply with a pat of butter. They taste a bit like asparagus, but with a more grassy, earthy flavor, redolent of the odors of walking in a cool, mossy forest. My husband and kids were not enamored, however, and commented on their resemblance to a certain variety of garden pest.



No matter. I ate them all up and savored every bite. Fiddleheads are supposed to be very nutritious when cooked (don't eat them raw, as they have certain toxins that need to be boiled off in the cooking water) and they are certainly one of the most beautiful vegetables one can behold on the plate. I am sharing this discovery of a new and gorgeous vegetable with Simona of Briciole, who is this week's host of Weekend Herb Blogging, a blog event that explores cooking with herbs, vegetables, fruits and flowers. Weekend Herb Blogging is now in its fourth year and is headquartered at Cook (Almost) Anything At Least Once.

6 comments:

Simona said...

You piqued my curiosity, Rachel. I have a lot of ferns in my garden and there are ferns everywhere around here, though I understand I need to do a careful identification before I attempt a tasting. Such a lovely plate! I never get tired of looking at ferns unfolding in the spring: it's fascinating. Thank you so much for participating.

Esme said...

I so love fiddleheads-we do not get them in So. Cal.

Gay said...

Fiddlehead fern is something we take for granted from where I leave since we have them almost all year round. We use them as vegetables, with coconut milk. Or mostly like a salad, with vinigar, onions and tomatoes. Time for me to check them out again...

Kitchen Butterfly said...

I've seen flowers that look like these fiddleheads and have been tempted....to pluck and cook them!

Mediterranean kiwi said...

fiddleheads used to be eaten by cretans even in recent times, but no one eats these now, as far as i know, becos of the relative ease of access to food sources these days - they still grow in the area, so i know i can forage them and have a taste of old time food

Anonymous said...

I used to pick and eat fiddleheads as a kid growing up in Randolph NY. My mother ate them growing up in New Brunswick, Canada, and brought her love of them to NY. They were usually steamed,then served with a little vinegar. All the local relatives thought we were crazy. Thanks for the memories!