Fiddlehead Ferns: Fun with Foraging by texaskillet

There is this whole undercurrent of society that forages for fresh plants to eat. Of course we know that there are people who fish and hunt and kill stuff to eat, but what about the aforementioned grouping.

Last season my hunt for information started with my desire to eat Huckleberries. Of course you could say that I have been foraging for years, as I am sure many of you have. Whenever you went out with the family and your mom had you pick blackberries and put them in a bucket so that she could make her famous cobbler. Whenever you came across a crab apple tree and plucked a few, brought them home and cooked them up with cinnamon, sugar and sometimes a little nutmeg. Whenever you went on a hike and came across some salmonberries or thimbleberries and just couldn’t resist the temptation. The stories go on and on and the occasion to eat something growing wild does the same.

Over the last year as I have started to gather info but not yet the bounty of the wilds I have narrowed my search to a few things. Nettles, berries of all sorts, wild asparagus, apples that aren’t in someone’s orchard & FIDDLEHEAD FERNS. Fortunately for me I don’t like mushrooms so figuring out poisonous vs. nonpoisonous on those bad boys is not an issue.

You may be wondering what Fiddlehead Ferns are, as I was… how do you know when you can pick them or which ones are the right ones? I think I found the answers, but of course would be remiss if I did not encourage you to seek a local professional for guidance. It seems that ferns are non-poisonous in any land you happen to be in. There are preferences out there of course, but well… I am just not that seasoned. I checked the stream local to my house and there were fiddlehead ferns. The problem was, I didn’t yet have all the info. SO, when I got wind that someone was selling the crop they had harvested at the Ballard Farmers Market, I was all over it. Of course since then I know that you would clip right above the ground level and only take three from each plant so that the plant will continue to thrive. I mean you do want to harvest them next year don’t you? Also, I learned that these are only available for a few short weeks in the spring and really should be harvested before they unfurl. These are all good things to know. J I think that I will stay away from the extra hairy ones, that just doesn’t seem as palatable to me.

So how do you prepare a Fiddlehead Fern? Super easy.

-First take your stash and blanch them for 4 minutes.

-Remove them from the water

-Drain off excess and flip them over to a pan with butter, garlic, salt and pepper or really any kind of seasoning that you prefer.

-Sautee until they are the desired tenderness.

I hate hate hate soggy veggies so I go for no longer than 2 minutes. Wahlaaaa! Done and delicious!

I have no doubt that there are hundreds of other ways to use these. I tend to want to keep it simple so I can really enjoy the flavor and let my palate tell me how I will next use something. However, if you have something you have tried, please let me know about it. I need to plan. J







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I definitely recommend sauteeing them with thick bacon, mmmmm! I also tried with the morels, but I apparently didn’t rinse them enough and they were a bit sandy. I’d try them again with the morels rinsed more thoroughly–if I can make it to the farmer’s market again before the ferns are sold out!

Comment by Jeannine

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