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What should I do with these fiddlehead ferns?

My local Fresh Market had fiddlehead ferns today. Intrigued, I bought some, but I have no idea what to do with them. I've been told I'll need to use them quickly. Can anyone give me some ideas or inspiration? Thanks!

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  1. I would saute, especially with morels, with some shallot, maybe a little cream. Eat with a grilled meat..

    1. Just be careful you cook them sufficiently.

      See the link about potential fiddlehead poisoning from a toxin not destroyed by light cooking methods,


      1 Reply
      1. re: trouttr

        Oh, crap, I did NOT know that and just fed them to my family last week without a thought about done-ness!!! Fortuntely, we all lived. Whew. Thank you SO much for the warning & info!

        Hi Cindy! Yeah, I just got them too - @ Kimberton Whole Foods last wk & noticed them there again the day before yesterday. $9.95/lb. I treated them like string beans, more or less: steamed them lightly, then tossed them in olive oil with salt & pepper. They were sort of... aggressively bland when just steamed, but with a light saute in the olive oil/salt/pepper mix, it brought out a certain nuttiness. I also read that a sprinkle of lemon juice is good and after eating them, I think I'd like that, too.

      2. I've cooked a lot of fiddleheads in my life. I've messed with lots of different recipes - but finally settled on one method of preparing them to avoid any bitterness or that overly almost acidic flavour they can sometimes have. First rinse them very well in several changes of water. Generally I fill a sink with cold water, swish the fiddles around and pick them out of the water, leaving the brown bits behind. You may have to do this a couple of times to get them clean. Next, bring a pot of water to a boil. Throw in the fiddles, bring back to a boil for a minute or two and drain completely. After this you can use them in any recipe you like. I usually sautee them with butter or olive oil, salt and pepper. Garlic and/or lemon if I feel like it. Or throw them into a pasta dish or risotto.

        The boiling step removes a lot of the raw bitter flavour - the water will become quite dark. I can't tell you what's going on there but whatever it is, it works for me.

        Enjoy. I'll be checking my patch tomorrow.

        1. I blanch them, then saute in butter with garlic, season them and hit them with a squirt of lemon. I think they taste a bit like a combo of asparagus/green beans.

          You can combine the blanched ferns with a thin pasta, like spaghettini, olive oil, fresh thyme and grated parmesan, or in a combo with asparagus and favas. You can also combine cooked fiddleheads with tomatoes, thinly sliced red onion, roasted red peppers and crumbled goat cheese. Dress with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

          Here's a link for a fiddlehead fern and morel risotto, from Yankee Mangazine in New England, where they know their fiddleheads:


          1. Blanch or par-steam them, then saute with lots of onion and bacon. Depending on the size you cut them into and the ratio of fern to bacon and onion, it can stand on its own as a side dish, or can pair well with pasta.

            They're not something I really go out of my way for, but they look cool. There are just lots of better-tasting, much cheaper vegetables out there, in my book.

            1 Reply
            1. re: dmd_kc

              Seconded. I've done this before with fresh fettuccine, pancetta instead of bacon, cherry tomatoes and lots of parmesan and butter. Very delicious!

            2. Last week I bought a bunch of fiddleheads at the farmer's market. I steamed them first to kill whatever needs killin' then sauteed them with a little minced onion and butter, added chunks of roasted sweet potato and white beans and tossed it all with an orange sesame dressing. It was really, really good!

              1. I love fiddlehead ferns! Love the way they look, and they have a nice, fresh green flavor. You can use them in any recipe that uses "spring" vegetables like asparagus, ramps, morels, etc. Just toss them in instead of or in addition to another spring vegetable. For example, toss with pasta & morels and ramps or spring onions, or use in a risotto with spring flavors. Once I paired them with sauteed fish and ramps in romesco sauce -- delicious.

                And for a totally different take on fiddlehead ferns, one of my books by Alford & Duguid -- maybe Hot Sour Salty Sweet or Beyond the Great Wall -- has a recipe for which one of the variations is made with fiddlehead ferns.

                1. Gosari Namul (Brakken/Fernbrake/Fern Sprouts)


                  6 ounces fresh (or refrigerated), or 3 ounces (dried) fern sprouts

                  Seasoning Mix
                  2 teaspoons Soy Sauce
                  1/4 teaspoon sugar*
                  1 medium Green Onion, chopped
                  3 cloves garlic
                  1 teaspoon kkaesoogeum (sesame salt)
                  1 tablespoon Sesame Oil

                  * or substitute 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar or 1 1/2 teaspoon honey


                  For dried fern sprouts
                  Completely cover with water and soak for 1 hour.
                  Drain fern sprouts and press out any excess liquid.

                  For fresh fern sprouts:
                  Clean thouroughly in cold running water
                  Bring a pot of water to a full boil.
                  Place the fern sprouts into the boiling water and boil for two to three minutes.
                  Remove from heat and immediately rinse under cold running water.

                  Garlic and Green Onion
                  Peel and thin slice garlic from top to bottom.
                  Trim and rinse the green onion, then cut green onion lengthwise from the root end to just above the white portion, and rough chop.

                  Place 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of sesame seeds in a smal pan over low to medium heat and slowly toast until lightly browned, stirring or shaking often.
                  Crush the toasted seeds and add a dash or two of salt.

                  Mix all ingredients well and let stand about 15 minutes.
                  Heat a pan over medium high heat, add seasoned fern sprouts, and stir fry for two to three minutes

                  1. Does anyone know if you can use any variey of fern fiddleheads. We have them coming up now all over our property and they're all in that fiddlehaed stage. I tried them once from the market and found them bitter so never bought them again, though prbably my fault after reading the posts here. What do you have to look for to know that you have the right kind?

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: junescook

                      You do have to know which ferns are which. Don't experiment if you're not sure. Some varieties are NOT edible. For edible fiddleheads, the fully grown fern is commonly known around here as an ostrich fern. Big fluffy fronds. There are many many types of ferns so you'll have to do some research.

                      1. re: Nyleve

                        As far as I know, the ostrich fern is the only edible fern in the US. I've planted a few in my yard...and although they are supposed to spread like mad, I haven't found that to be the case..I think it will be years before I get even a small harvest.