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Apr 19, 2012 03:37 PM

fiddlehead question

my husband brought home what appear to me to be fiddleheads - never seen them in nature before - just on my plate. They have a white covering on them. does coating cook off - do I peel it?

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  1. I eat Fiddleheads every spring, yet have never seen a "white covering" on them. I'm assuming you mean a light papery coating - not a fungus or something?

    If it's the light papery coating (which I've only seen as tan/brown), just gently rub it off while your rinsing the Fiddleheads. It's not toxic or anything so you don't have to be anal about getting every little shred off.
    It's just natural protection for the fern bud as it pushes through the soil.

    Then just trim the very ends (which are usually brown from where they were cut/picked) & lightly boil or steam your Fiddleheads until fork tender, & serve them in a recipe or just plain buttered & with a squeeze of lemon juice if you which. For something fancier, they also pair well with Hollandaise sauce.


      Did you buy the fiddleheads from a market or supplier? Not all fiddleheads should be eaten.
      Video explains how to prepare them.

      2 Replies
      1. re: HillJ

        I have to agree here. Did your husband buy them or pick them? Because not all fern fiddleheads are edible. In fact, even the edible Ostrich Fern can be toxic if eaten raw, frequently, or in large quantities.

        1. re: HillJ

          Hmmm, watched video and she did say not all were edible. Guess we'll have to do more research. thanks

        2. Just what I was about to say: not all fiddleheads created equal and, if found in nature, you MUST be certain that they are growing in a 'pure' environment as they tend to concentrate toxins.

          4 Replies
          1. re: LJS

            They were picked in wild - but in a safe environment - no spraying - no toxins - it is a Wisconsin woods on private land that is used purely for recreation

            1. re: chocchic

              The "safe environment" isn't the problem here. The problem is that unless the ferns were "Ostrich Ferns", your "fiddleheads" could very likely be HIGHLY toxic. Outside of Ostrich Ferns, there are VERY few ferns that are edible without very serious toxic side effects. Unless your husband is an EXPERT forager, & had visited the patch where he harvested these last year when they were fully grown to positively identify them as Ostrich Ferns, I'd be adding them to my compost pile right about now. ALL fern fiddleheads look the same when they're just sprouting.

              DON'T eat these.

              Frankly, the fact that they have "white" papery coverings other than the tan/brown of Ostrich Ferns already has me suspect. Enjoying wild foods isn't worth a trip to the ER (or the morgue) or developing an intimate relationship with your bathroom for several days.

              Goodness - I thought you'd purchased them from a market, not wild harvested them.

              1. re: chocchic

                I wouldn't chance it, chocchic. This happens to be fiddlehead season and you'd be wiser to buy them from your local market. They are delicious, and precious, but don't chance eating the wrong variety.

                1. re: HillJ

                  Ok - we tossed them. He was actually out looking for morels and ran across these - After I tossed them he did some research and determined they were "cinnamon ferns" and according to what he was able to determine not toxic. I'm still glad I didn't eat them. Thanks all.