Other names: Fiddlehead Fern
Availability: April to mid-June
Source: United States.
Handling Tips: 32-34° F. Keep cold and dry.
General Information: The Fiddlehead Fern typifies Spring for many. These unusual, tightly coiled ferns appear annually and should not be missed. If their flavor can be described, it is that of asparagus, artichoke and a subtle grassyness. They may be boiled (removes bitterness), steamed or sauteed. Enjoy as a side dish, in fiddlehead soup, or cooked, then chilled, and served in salad.
When people say 'fiddlehead fern' they are most often talking about the ostrich fern. This is the species often available in produce markets and sometimes even on the menus of fine restaurants. These magnificent ferns grow mostly in shady river bottoms, where often they cover many acres of ground, but they are also occasionally found in rich hardwood forests. Ostrich fern ranges from Newfoundland to Alaska and British Colombia, south to northern California, the Midwest, and the Southern Appalachians. It is abundant in the upper Great Lakes, the Northeast, and much of southern Canada.
Nutritional: Fiddlehead ferns are a good source of vitamins A and C.
Applications: 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 excellent marinated in vinegar and oil or as a crunchy pickle. As a featured vegetable they will please the most demanding palate. Fiddleheads can be used in similar ways to any firm green vegetable such as Asparagus or Broccoli florets.
Fiddleheads will lend their delicious flavor and elegant visual appeal to many familiar dishes. Use them as a perfect featured vegetable in a simple stir-fry.
The flavor of fiddleheads goes well with cheeses, tomato sauce and oriental cuisine. Excellent with Hollandaise sauce.
They are wonderful in pasta dishes with a sauce made from Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar. Saute, stir-fry or steam briefly to retain their crunchy texture and bright green color. Do not overcook.