Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fiddle Heads..Information~~ Recipes Lets talk

Thought I would do a little research of fiddle heads..Its almost that time of year for some folks.. How many out there like them and eat them? Do you can them? Blessings..

Fiddlehead fern, fiddlehead greens, ostrich fern, bracken fern, brake fern
warabi (Japan)
(Pteridium aquilinum, and others -- Family Polypodiaceae)
The common fern family, Polypodiaceae, produces a multitude of edible "fiddleheads". The Matteuccia struthiopteris variety is the kind most often collected in Canada and mainland US. In Hawaii, it is the Diplazium esculentum that is the most common. The ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) is another popular variety collected. Originating in Asia, the osterich fern is one of more than twenty species that regularly figured in the diet of the early American Indians. New Zealand has almost 200 native ferns, and the Pteridium aquilinum was an important plant food source for the Maori before the introduction of sweet potatoes and maize by white settlers. However, the fern most prized by them was Asplenium bulbiferum, the hen and chicken fern. Bracken fern is popular with native peoples in Canada, as well as in Japan and Korea, as is the cinnamon fern, zenmai (Osmunda cinnamomoea). Bracken root was often preferred to the shoot and made into warabi starch in Japan. Although consumption of these, and of the royal fern (Osmunda regalis), is an old practice in the Far East, experts are now advising against it as there is considerable evidence that they cause cancer of the stomach and esophagus, and eating only the young osterich fern is advised. When small and fresh, the osterich fern tastes like asparagus, artichokes, green beans, and mushrooms, with a chewy texture all of its own.
The name fiddlehead refers to the resemblance between the tightly curled shoots and the scroll on a violin head. The practice of eating them is said to have started with the French settlers, who took that cue from the American Indian. The Maliseet Indians of New Brunswick, Canada, have a long history of harvesting and eating fiddleheads. They consider them to be a medicine, as well as a food, and were known to mark their canoes, wigwams, and clothing with a fiddlehead motif. The part that is eaten is the very young, tightly coiled shoot as it breaks through the ground in the spring. It is covered with brown scales which have to be scraped off, then boiled in at least one change of water to remove the bitterness. The texture is then crisp and the flavour nutty. Very young shoots can also be grilled, peeled, and eaten without any further preparation. The shoots resemble green asparagus in appearance. The taste is halfway between asparagus and spinach, but some think it is more like artichokes or wild mushrooms. Regardless, they are earthy, a little nutty, and somewhat grassy.
All types of ferns go through a fiddlehead stage just prior to unfurling their new leaves. However, not all ferns are safe to eat as many are carcinogenic. The "osterich" fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) is the only non-carcinogenic fern. Although several ferns are suspected of causing cancer, there may also be some that are downright poisonous as farm animals are known to avoid them. Therefore, such plants should not be tasted at random. If at all possible, watch the animals. They know which ones are safe and which ones are not and, like nuts, the scramble to get to them first begins. Some native peoples were known to eat the rhizomes as well. They roasted them in hot coals and then removed the outer bark, taking the white inner part and pulverizing it for cakes or to eat as candy. They did not eat the central fibrous veins as it was believed to cause paralysis. However, fern leaves, and hay contaminated with the fern, are known to be poisonous to livestock when eaten in large quantities. The toxic ingredient is an enzyme called thiaminase, which destroys the animal's thiamine reserves. Nothing is said whether this same principle holds true for humans, however, but it stands to reason that it should also apply.
When choosing fiddleheads, pick ones that are a deep or bright green, tightly coiled and no larger than an inch and a half in diameter. When they become too big, they taste like green wood and fiber. Whether you find a dry brown casing on them depends on whether these scales have fallen off during the trip to the market. The scales are bitter and need to be removed before the fiddleheads can be used, which should be the same day as when they are bought or picked. They do freeze well after blanching. If cooking them, do so gently and quickly as they will soon lose their whimsical shape. They are usually served hot with a splash of lemon and butter or soy sauce with a little oil, garlic, and sesame seeds. Fiddleheads and mushrooms make a natural combination. Fiddleheads are a good source of vitamins A and C, niacin, magnesium, iron, potassium, zinc, and phosphorus

How to Pick Fiddleheadsthumbnail
The arrival of Spring brings fiddleheads to the eastern coast of the United States and Canada. These tightly coiled croziers, of the Ostrich fern, later uncoil into magnificent ferns that blanket the river and stream banks. It earns its name from the tightly coiled head that resembles the head of a fiddle. But it is not the beauty of the mature fern that excites the natives; it is the delicate flavor of this natural

  • Look for fiddleheads along stream and river banks. If you are unsure which ferns are fiddleheads, ask a friend or neighbor to show you.

  • 2
    Pick fiddleheads on a sunny day when fiddleheads are dry. Dry fiddleheads are much easier to take care of and tend to be cleaner and free of debris

    • Choose large fiddleheads that are growing on stalks six to eight inches from the ground. Fiddleheads that are loosely coiled or have begun to unfurl should be avoided. Young fiddleheads that are just emerging from the ground are often wet and difficult to clean.
    • 4
      Grasp the fiddlehead in your hand and snap it off at the stalk. Be sure to leave at least one to two inches of the stalk attached to the fiddlehead. Not only is this stalk tender and delicious, it will make cleaning much easier, too.
    • 5
      Toss picked fiddleheads into a small bucket carried in the left hand. Although some people prefer to pick into a plastic bag, using a small bucket is actually faster and easier. Once you get into the rhythm of picking and dropping them into the bucket, it's a breeze.
    • 6
      Empty the bucket into a clean plastic bag each time it is filled.
    • 7
      Pick entire clusters of fiddleheads at one time by grasping them below the head; quickly snapping off several stems at once.

    Cleaning Fiddleheads

    • 1
      Open a large paper bag and set it beside your cleaning area.
    • 2
      Grasp the stems of several dry fiddleheads. Hold the fiddleheads over the bag by the stem so that the heads are in the bag. With a twist of the wrist, sharply snap the fiddlehead against the inside of the bag. This will remove the brown papery covering on the fiddleheads. Remove any excess flecks of brown by hand and place cleaned fiddleheads in a large bowl. If ends have turned brown, simply snap off a small portion of the stem and discard it.
    • 3
      Pour fiddleheads into a large bowl of cold water and mix with your fingers to remove and remaining debris. The water should completely cover the fiddleheads with an additional inch of water beyond the fiddleheads. Scoop any floating debris off the top of the water and discard. Drain and repeat, if necessary.
    • 4
      Pour fiddleheads into a colander and run under cold water for a final rinse.

    Read more: How to Pick Fiddleheads |

    Fiddleheads Recipes - Fiddlehead Fern Recipe Collection

    Fiddleheads are a New England spring delicacy that can be consumed raw or cooked. Here are some fiddleheads recipes from New England to help you prepare this vegetable, which is actually a tightly coiled young fern, at home. Also learn how to share your own favorite fiddlehead fern recipe.

    What Are Fiddleheads?

    Before you cook fiddleheads, learn all about these unique ferns that are harvested in New England in the spring.

    Easy Recipe for Boiled Fiddleheads

    An easy recipe for boiled fiddleheads, including advice on where to find wild New England fiddlehead ferns, submitted by Lona of the Hill People.

    Fiddlehead Omelet Recipe

    Reader Rachel Evans, who married a long-time Mainer, shares this recipe for a Fiddlehead Omelet made with fresh Maine fiddleheads.

    Recipe for Fiddleheads with Mushrooms, Onions and Garlic

    Recipe for fiddleheads with mushrooms onions and garlic, submitted by Janine. Serve over pasta or as a side veggie.

    Cream of Fiddlehead Soup

    Here's a recipe for a creamy soup with fiddleheads from Vermont Public Radio's Cheryl Willoughby.

    Dijon Fiddleheads

    Add the savory flavor of dijon mustard to your fiddleheads with this recipe from Yankee Magazine.

    Fiddlehead Dip

    From the "What's For Suppah?" program on Maine's PBS station, here is a recipe for a warm dip featuring chopped fiddleheads, garlic, sweet onions and cheeses.

    Fiddlehead Ferns and Angel Hair Pasta

    From native New Englander and celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, here's a recipe that combines fiddleheads, pasta and Creole seasoning.

    Fiddlehead Ferns with Brown Butter and Prosciutto

    From the Today Show, here is a unique recipe for fiddlehead ferns shared by Chefs Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier of Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit, Maine.

    Fiddlehead Pasta Prima Vera

    Here's a New England fiddleheads recipe to try at home if you're craving a vegetarian pasta dish.

    Gnocchi and Fiddleheads gives us this recipe from chef Dante deMagistris of the blu in Boston for Potato Gnocchi in Celery Broth with Sauteed Fava Beans, Fiddleheads, Asparagus and Pecorino Romano. That's a mouthful!

    Maine Fiddlehead Salad

    This zesty salad recipe incorporates cooked fiddleheads.

    Mainiac Ham and Cheese Pie with Fiddleheads

    Whip up a taste of Maine with this recipe from Castleview By the Sea Bed and Breakfast in Camden, Maine. It uses crab meat and fiddleheads, along with the ham and cheese.

    Marinated Fiddlehead Salad

    From the "What's For Suppah?" program on Maine's PBS station, here is a recipe for a chilled and marinated fiddlehead salad.

    Morel and Fiddlehead Fern Ragout

    Emeril cooking with fiddleheads? Yup. Although you might associate the celebrity chef with Louisiana, he actually hails from New England.

    Risotto with Fiddleheads and Morels

    From Yankee Magazine, here is a gourmet fiddleheads recipe from Lee Skawinski, chef/owner of Vignola and Cinque Terre in Portland, Maine.

    River Catfish with Fiddleheads and Potatoes

    From Yankee Magazine, here's a recipe for a wild supper featuring both fiddleheads and catfish filets.

    Stir-Fried Fiddleheads

    Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find this easy recipe for stir-fried fiddleheads from A Taste of the Mountains cooking school in New Hampshire, as published by Mother Earth News.

    Vermont Fiddlehead Pie

    This spring specialty recipe from The Combes Family Inn in Ludlow, Vermont, features chopped fiddleheads and Vermont cheddar.

    Vermont Fiddleheads with Cob Smoked Ham and Pasta

    This recipe is a Vermont variation on a classic Italian pasta dish.

    Share YOUR Fiddlehead Fern Recipe

    Have your own favorite way to prepare fiddleheads? Here's how to submit your fiddleheads recipe for possible publication.


    1. Hi.
      I don't believe I have ever seen these fiddleheads. I grew close to the river so I might have seen them then but I don't remember them.
      Are they good?


    2. Hi Cammy fiddle heads are big here in the spring for Maine.. I don't care for them but other folks say they are very good.. They are very pricey.. Do you still have a blog?? hugs.. sisterbrenda with many blessings.