Taste of Spring: Fiddleheads

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by Jennifer Fugo on April 5, 2012

“A what?!?!  Fiddlehead? What the heck is that?”

My friend asked me this when I excitedly mentioned having purchased them at the Philadelphia Farm and Food show this past weekend.  He then told me that the word sounded like something he might teasingly call a friend or sibling as a child.  I’d slightly agree as the word does sound kind of funny.

But funny is something that fiddleheads are not.  In fact, they are part of the bounty of wonderful Spring foods which are generally not grown by farmers.  They have to be foraged for.  Forage? Yes, foraged.

Fiddleheads are the yet-to-unfurl tops of the ferns which will, if left unpicked, unwind into a new frond.  And yes, they grow in the wild.  Because of this, they are highly nutritious (they’re a good source of vitamin A) and only available at this time of year before the heat of early summer sets in.

You can steam them or lightly sauté them with other spring veggies like onions, garlic, asparagus, ramps, etc.  They’ve got a unique taste of ‘Spring’ that’s not too incredibly strong… so chances are if you like asparagus, you’ll probably like fiddleheads.  And take a quick moment to admire just how cool it is that they look and their beautiful deep green color.  Fiddleheads are truly an amazing food that you’ll either have to hunt down yourself in the woods or from someone who’s passion for foraging will score you some of these Spring gems.

Have you ever tried fiddleheads?  How have you prepared them?

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