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Fiddleheads

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I've been seeing them in the grocery store and I'm intrigued. How do you cook them?

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  1. My grandfather and I used to take walks in the woods behind our house growing up (in Western Mass), and we'd pick them around this time of year. He showed me which ferns to use, and when they're the best to pick. My grandma would always cook them in butter with a pinch of salt. But then again, I'm of Irish/English decent, so everything was cooked that way.

    I bet cooking them on medium/high heat with vegetable oil & loads of garlic (with that pinch of salt) would be worth a try. As I haven't eaten these things for 20 years, I can't be sure how it'll come out. :)

    7 Replies
    1. re: cee

      I boil them until tender, and then saute them.

      1. re: MMRuth

        I agree with this, but I would clarify that in between the steps "boil" and "saute," I shock them in ice water.

        I basically treat them like greenbeans. Blanch, shock, saute.

        I recently special ordered some for a dinner I made. MAN, I wish we got these on the west coast. They are so fantastic and so hard to get here.

        1. re: coseboom

          Now that they're in season, check in your local Korean market.

          1. re: hannaone

            I have been seeing them in stores everywhere for the last couple weeks. I'm in BC.

      2. re: cee

        Hi! I live in Amherst, MA and when I go running in the woods, I've been seeing them everywhere. I've been uneasy about eating stuff I find in the woods because I'm not a plant expert. How do I know which ferns to use? This sounds like it could be really fun! Thanks!!

        1. re: thunderbug84

          Hi thunderbug,
          I'm actually from Amherst, although I moved there in High School. I used to search for fiddleheads in the mountains on the Westfield/Granville border, where I was born. It's been a really long time, and I don't remember exactly what kind is edible. Let me email my father and see if he knows.

          1. re: cee

            This just in from my father:
            --------
            Now is the time for fiddlehead ferns, they are not leather leaf
            more likely bracken or dagger fern. They must be in a curled
            and not open stage to harvest. Steaming them is best, however you could boil.
            Truly, they're not as good as you may think!
            --------

      3. You can steam them. Serve with a little butter on them. Or into an omelette after steaming (add cheese if you like).

        1. first i boil them for a few minutes & then blanch them, then saute them with shallots in butter and olive oil. a little S&P too. when boiling them the water will turn kind of a scary looking brown. not sure if that's the dirt trapped in the curls or some chemical reaction or what.

          i've been told that you have to boil them first or at least saute them for a while to be sure they are completely cooked otherwise they will make you sick. something about them being toxic or poisonous in their raw state? can someone confirm this?

          4 Replies
          1. re: rebs

            I've heard that as well. I know that most Koreans (at least in my area of WA) wash, boil, wash, boil, then dry the fiddleheads.

            1. re: hannaone

              <i've been told that you have to boil them first or at least saute them for a while to be sure they are completely cooked otherwise they will make you sick. something about them being toxic or poisonous in their raw state? can someone confirm this?>
              our local food coop always has a note on the fiddleheads advising us to boil first to remove any of the "toxins'. well, i didn't this time and when i woke up after a very uncomfortable night's sleep-stomach pains and several trips to the toilet, i asked my husband how he felt and he hadd the same reaction. so my advice is boil them first to avoid tummy aches. otdherwise the food is not worth it.....

            2. re: rebs

              http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:...

              I find Health Canada's suggested cooking times excessive. Cook 'em that long and they end up tasting like pond scum.

              1. re: carswell

                Rince them 3-4 times in cold water.

                Bring water to a boil and toss them in for 2 minutes.

                Drain and drop into cold water with a few ice cubes.

                Then you can saute briefly in butter or olive oli, garlic if you wish but not too much as you want the nutty flavour of the fiddlehead to prevail. Or eat in salads.

                Don't get too fancy. The fiddlehead's the thing, not anything else you can mix them up with.

            3. My family has been gathering and eating fiddleheads since long before i was born. Usually just sauteed in butter, but we also pickle them (in a dill/garlic brine) and they are such a treat like that (and keep for a long time). Use a dilly bean recipe but swap the beans with fiddleheads.

              enjoy!

              1 Reply
              1. re: amyamelia

                I love pickled anything. I so have to try that!

              2. Blanche, Shock, Saute with bacon bits and S&P