4/26/2010

Fiddleheads


The Ottawa Valley, and especially Pembroke, is renowned for its fiddlers and step dancers. There's a huge annual Old Time Fiddling and Step Dancing Competition held every Labour Day Weekend that attracts musicians and dancers from all over North America to our little city to raise a little hell and have fun while they're at it. People gather at Fiddle Park, and well over 2000 RV's are filled with lovers of  a waltz, a jig and a reel. Anything fiddle goes. But what you won't be able to find is a fiddle head. Because that 's a spring thing, and it's here right now.

If ever you want to know what spring tastes like, this is it. It's fresh, it's green with a slightly bitter after taste, and it goes exceptionally well with butter.
While there are hundreds of different kinds of ferns that grow throughout the woods of eastern Ontario, there is only one fiddlehead, and at maturity it looks like this...

They grow to about 2 feet high, they like damp, shady areas, and you often see them as transplants -up against a house foundation -don't eat those ones though, the homeowners might get a little testy if you're caught lurking around the back porch. If they're this size, you're too late...
You need to pluck them when they're just up out of the ground, still tightly furled,
just like the head of a fiddle.
Rinse them really well to get rid of the brown papery covering, in fact, I rinse them and then par boil really quickly -no more than 2 minutes. Discard that water, then toss into a pan, cover with a bit of salted water, bring to a boil for about 3 minutes (same time  as you would give asparagus) so that they're still slightly crunchy. Serve hot with butter, salt and pepper to taste - and it's music time for your mouth while your taste buds do the two step! And the very best part?? It's free food -  and it can be yours for the picking.
Bon Appetit!

12 comments:

Snail said...

I didn't know that ferns were edible! Don't think I'll experiment with any in this garden, but those fiddleheads sound tasty.

Powell River Books said...

While we have lots of ferns near us at the cabin, I don't think any are the Fiddlehead variety. However, there must be some in the area because on old farm on Powell Lake was called Fiddlehead Farm. I would guess the name came from the fern. But it was famous for a different reason. Mark Vonnegut wrote of his "hippie" times at the farm and fight with schizophrenia in the book East of Eden.

Thanks for stopping by today. It's always good to have a visit and comment. - Margy

Diane AZ said...

Fascinating, I didn't know fiddlehead ferns were edible! They do look tasty. Too bad they don't grow in the Southwest US.

Kelly said...

...I had no idea you could eat a fern! Are the any poisonous ferns out there?? :-) My grandma used to do Fiddle dancing. She was 90 and still going strong, but the teacher moved away and that was the end of that. She did it for about 15 years. I think all that dancing kept her young!

Dave Lewis said...

Om-nom-nom!

faye said...

The photos are lovely and the ferns do look very tasty. I would never have thought of eating them.

Wolynski said...

You're very brave eating fern. How did you know it was edible? On the other hand, my mother picked mushrooms - knew exactly which ones were edible... and tastier than the white variety we get in stores.

robin andrea said...

It looks like most of us here didn't know that fiddle-head ferns were edible. I've often thought about taking a class on the edible greens that are available in the local woods and forest. Interesting stuff!

Johnny Nutcase said...

i just learned the other day that these are edible, we have them here and they are out and about now. The fiddle competition sounds like a ton of fun to watch! Great post :)

Ruth said...

I love fiddleheads and look for them every spring (at the grocery store). Last year I read a Health Canada article about the need to boil them for 15 minutes. It certainly cuts the taste when you cook them this long. Here is the link
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/kitchen-cuisine/fiddlehead-fougere-eng.php

I don't know what to think of this advice as no toxin has been identified.

Susan said...

Hmmm...I've never boiled ANY vegetable for 15 minutes (unless its a potato...) I think the double rinsing and the par boiling is adequate...at least I'm still here to rave about how yummy they are...touch wood!

Ruth said...

I am going to follow your advice. I have a lot of ferns in my yard and I will try them this year.