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no one's talking about fiddleheads...

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
surprised to see no one talking about fiddleheads this time of the year. anyone cooking with them currently? would love to hear how you're preparing them.
post #2 of 15
What's a fiddlehead?

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Chris Ward
 
http://eatsleepcookschool.wordpress.com - The true story of the year I spent learning how to be a professional cook at catering school in Avignon, Provence, while working as a dishwasher.
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Chris Ward
 
http://eatsleepcookschool.wordpress.com - The true story of the year I spent learning how to be a professional cook at catering school in Avignon, Provence, while working as a dishwasher.
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post #3 of 15
They are young ferns that are just emerging from the ground. They are coiled up tightly resembling the top of a violin (or fiddle). They are foraged in Springtime and many people consider them a delicacy.
post #4 of 15
Brewchef I was just out last weekend in Black River Falls WI harvesting some fiddlehead ferns (Also know as Ostrich Fern). It was my first time harvesting them in the wild and it was incredible to see these huge fields of them. Typically I keep the preparation simple, saute in butter with salt and pepper. I would enjoy hearing others preparations.
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All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
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Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
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post #5 of 15
several years ago my brother and I tried fiddleheads out.....both were running for a bathroom for numerous hours. Is there a way to clean them or do they need to be soaked or sauteed until dead. I've not tried them since but am curious about our physical reactions.....especially since consuming wild shrooms is normal in my home.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #6 of 15
Fiddleheads contain a toxin that causes vomiting, diarrhea, and other ill-effects... They need to be fully cooked to be safe to eat (says the health advisory that came with them). We usually boil them first until nearly cooked (shock in ice water after), then sautée them with a little butter, some garlic and ginger for service.

edit - just did a little internet search, apparently there are several different species of 'fiddleheads', some of which are toxic, and some of which aren't....
post #7 of 15
I have never had any adverse effects from fiddleheads. I just saute them in a little butter with some salt, pepper, and shallots.
post #8 of 15
As Mikeb alluded to, the term "fiddlehead" is a generic term for any young fern frond edible or not but is is used as a common name in reference to the "Ostrich Fern". To avoid confusion, the only way to be sure is to go with the Latin/Botanical/Scientific name. To add to the problem, many don't realize they're harvesting the improper species and sometimes plants are mislabeled.

"Many people mistakenly believe that all fern fiddleheads are edible. Because of this misconception, stories of people getting sick from fiddleheads are common, and this has caused many to steer clear of these wildlings.

There are three main species of edible ferns in North America: ostrich fern (Matteucia struthiopteris), lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina), and bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum). All of them are widespread and, in certain areas, abundant. For each of these species the part gathered and eaten is the young, tender shoot (called fiddleheads due to the curled tips, which resemble the top of a fiddle) found in spring and early summer. The mature fronds of all of these ferns should not be eaten."

Ostrich Fern

"The fiddlehead stalks are smooth and naked of any scales or wool, but the coiled tops are full of brown papery flakes. The top side of the stalk (or, the part facing the center of the rosette) has a deep, U-shaped trough running its entire length – this is an important feature to look for.

Gather the fiddleheads in mid to late spring; they’ll be too old by the time the leaves are fully formed on the sugar maples and oaks. Harvest them when they are eight to twenty inches tall – as long as they are still tender and the leafy portion of the frond is not yet unfurled. Usually the bottom quarter or so of the stalk is too tough to eat; in time you’ll get the hang of knowing where to break them off. You don’t have to cut the fiddleheads; when bent they should snap off cleanly.

Many people only collect the tightly coiled tops of the fiddleheads, leaving behind the juicy stalk which constitutes the greater part of the shoot. I have never been able to figure out why this is done – there is no gustatory, culinary, or practical reason for it. In fact, I greatly prefer both the flavor and the texture of the stalks to that of the coiled leafy tips. Your fiddlehead patch will yield a lot more good food if you harvest the whole vegetable.

Simply boiled or steamed and served with butter like asparagus they are superb. Ostrich fern shoots are crisp and sweet when raw and make a pleasant addition to salads or can be just nibbled on a hike through the woods."

Lady Fern

"Lady fern tastes much like ostrich fern, only with an added faint bitterness. It can be used similarly in cooking, but it is advisable to rub off the “hairs,” since their texture is rather unpleasant. I enjoy lady fern fiddleheads but find them less preferable to those of ostrich fern due to the flavor, smaller size, and somewhat annoying hairs."

Bracken Fern

You'll often see these as an ingredient in packaged Asian veggies at your Asian grocery. "Unlike the other two ferns discussed, bracken does not grow in rosettes. Bracken stems grow singly, rising straight up from the ground with no branching and little taper for one to five feet – then the stalks suddenly split into three main forks, forming a large, roughly triangular frond that grows almost parallel to the ground. Bracken stalks are connected by a network of thin rhizomes found a few inches underground, and they often form very large colonies.

A distinctive feature of bracken is two black dots on the fiddlehead where the main branches fork; on warm days ants will be seen feeding on a substance produced by these dark spots. Bracken shoots are covered with a layer of short, rusty-colored fuzz which can easily be rubbed off before consumption. These fiddleheads should be collected when they are eight inches to two feet tall – as long as the forks are still unfurled and the stems snap easily. The lower portion will generally be too tough to eat, especially on the taller stalks. The season of harvest for these fiddleheads is long, as a few shoots will come up into midsummer."

"In some areas ostrich fern has been seriously overharvested by market collectors. Although they are prolific and vigorous, any of these ferns can be overcollected due to carelessness. For lady and ostrich ferns, collect only 2-5 shoots per rosette, and never more than once per season. For bracken fern, never pick more than 50 % of the stems in an area, and try to spread out your impact."

http://tracksandtrees.com/articles/fiddlehead.html
post #9 of 15
I like them in salads like a spinach salad, with pine nuts, stilton, and a warm bacon vin.

Or sauteed in rendered duck(or bacon) fat, and mixed with some aspearagus tips.
Like all good meals, this too shall pass
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Like all good meals, this too shall pass
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post #10 of 15
The fiddle head ferns we harvested we ate fresh right as we picked them. As with any wild edible if you pick the wrong one it can be a horrible taste in your mouth. The important thing to remember when harvesting wild edibles such as fiddle head ferns is to have more than one identifer and to become with an area where you find them.
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
Thanks,

Nicko 
ChefTalk.com Founder
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
Bacon (I made)
(26 photos)
Reply
post #11 of 15

garnish

we use them primarily as a garnish on platters of h-ds - they run about $17 a pound in these parts.




it always arouses peeps curiousity and gets lots of positive comments.

One time I was in our local supermarket and they were the featured veg of theweek on special for 2.99 a pound - we scooped up pounds of them and feasted for days.
Chef Tigerwoman

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
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Chef Tigerwoman

Stop Tofu Abuse...Eat Foie Gras...
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post #12 of 15

Fiddle weeds

Growing up, we had a large area at the back of the property that was covered with ferns. In the spring, my mother would often pick a boatload of fiddle heads to serve with supper.

Ferns to me are like elbow macaroni, something that I have already eaten far too many of to be left wanting more in this lifetime.

I am ruthless with the buggers when I break out the weed-wacker. :lol: Years ago where I grew up in Quebec, you couldn't give them away, now they are at the grocery store.

Think there is a market for mail order fiddle heads? I could probably drive North for an hour or so and pick a tonne.
Will work for a bed and shower... I want to find a place to live that isn't Vermont. I am interested in seeing a few sites.
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Will work for a bed and shower... I want to find a place to live that isn't Vermont. I am interested in seeing a few sites.
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post #13 of 15
I used our annual 10 pounds of fiddleheads last weekend. They were blanched in boiling water until just crisp then shocked in cold water as mentioned in a previous reply.
We sauteed them in butter and garlic along with red swisschard, baby carrots and baby bok choy. One of the best looking and most flavourful veg combinations to date. The price was $6.00 per pound.

Al
post #14 of 15
We used to serve them in pasta with different butter sauces. Usually short pastas like farfalle or orchiette..
post #15 of 15
I enjoy fiddleheads and I think they would be good cooked in the same way one would cook brussels sprouts, blanch and saute. However, I too am looking at interesting ways of serving them, anyone tried frying or batter/tempura?
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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