Fiddling with Fiddleheads

I am a local chef who enjoys wandering around Farmers Markets in search a beautiful seasonal ingredients. My blog will hopefully demystify them and give you a few ideas and recipes for your table.

“Fiddlehead.” What a whimsical name for a funny looking little vegetable. I love saying it; even funnier that when I hear it I am reminded of a line spoken near the beginning of Gone With the Wind by Scarlett O’Hara. Except I would like to think she might say today: “Fiddle-dee-dee, markets, markets, markets. All this talk of Farmers Markets are making me hungry! (Rather than her line about the war, of course!) Lucky for us we have many markets all over the country, and in particular our very own backyard of Westchester County.  Many run indoors through the Winter and Spring, and in just around the corner will be in full force outdoors. I am simply beyond excited! 

This week and next I’ll be talking about two very special ingredients that make a brief appearance once a year in the Spring: Fiddlehead Ferns and Ramps. Beautiful in appearance yet different in flavor; today we will be fiddling around with fiddleheads.

In selecting fiddleheads you want to look for a bright green appearance, smooth and free of dark spots. They should be green, fresh and firm looking; and the coils should look tight. Generally before they are sold the brown papery chaff that surrounds the fiddlehead on the plant is brushed off, but if not, you want to gently brush it off when you clean them.

To prepare them I like to give them a good wash in a couple of changes of cool water to remove any bits of dirt that might be lurking about and then trim the stem if longer than 2 inches. If you don’t think you will cook them as soon as you get them home store your fiddles in a plastic bag; but only for a day or two.

Fiddleheads are versatile and easy to use. They have a mild taste reminiscent of asparagus with an added nutty bite all their own. Fiddleheads are a good source of vitamins A and C, Omega 3 and 6, iron and fiber. Fiddleheads should not be eaten raw as they have a slight bitterness until cooked, and may cause you to have an upset stomach.

For more on fiddleheads and my recipe jump to my blog  .... 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Paula April 30, 2012 at 01:09 AM
If you think you don't know fiddleheads, if you have common ferns, you probably get fiddleheads. They are just early in the season before they unfurl. If you don't cut the fiddleheads they turn into fern leaves when they unroll themselves. Another cool thing about ferns is that if you turn over the leaves and see evenly spaced spots, they are seeds to fall off at the end of fall - that is if they aren't moving. If they are moving, then you've got bugs on your ferns!
Maria Reina April 30, 2012 at 01:04 PM
yes Donald. As noted in the link to my blog above (www.bellacucinamaria.blogspot.com) fiddleheads must be cooked before eating. Thanks for stopping by!
Maria Reina April 30, 2012 at 01:08 PM
It's important to note that only certain types can be consumed. It's best to purchase them from a farmer or market that you are familiar with, just to be safe. Thanks for stopping by!
Lanning Taliaferro April 30, 2012 at 08:21 PM
I grab them too since it's such a short season (and eat them all myself as I haven't been able to convert other family members)!
Liza Zajac Whitehead May 01, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Maria - thanks for posting this ... I was about to trysome that grow wild around here! So it's not safe to eat just ANY fiddleheads then?


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