How to Cook Fiddleheads Three Different Ways

Fiddleheads Just what are fiddleheads anyway? Well, fiddleheads are the brand new fronds of a wild fern before they completely open up in the spring. They get their name because their curled head resembles that of a fiddle. Fiddleheads...

Fiddleheads
Fiddleheads

Just what are fiddleheads anyway? Well, fiddleheads are the brand new fronds of a wild fern before they completely open up in the spring. They get their name because their curled head resembles that of a fiddle. Fiddleheads are a favorite spring time side dish and they freeze well, are said to taste something like asparagus and are simple to prepare. They’re found close to meadows and springs and creeks in wooded areas all around the U.S. But if you pick your own be absolutely certain you know what you’re picking! To be safe, get them from a grocery store and try to pick the tighter curled fiddleheads—they’ll taste better and cook faster. But, like with any wild food, it can have risks. There are three ways to prepare these goodies you’ll just have to keep reading to find out how to cook fiddleheads.

Items Needed:

  • Fiddleheads
  • 1 stockpot
  • 1 heavy skillet
  • Butter, salt and pepper

Cleaning Your Fiddleheads

Rinse completely and then put into a bowl of cold water. Fiddleheads have an outer skin like an onion and you’ll have to remove all of this skin. Be sure to rinse again under running water until all the fiddleheads are green and free from all of the brown coverings and dirt. Fiddleheads are a wild fern so it’s very important to clean all the fiddleheads fully to keep the dangerous bacteria from getting into your digestive system. Because of all the bacteria that are on fiddleheads, it’s not recommended that you eat them raw—in a salad for example—as this could lead to an infection.

After the fiddleheads are all clean, you’ll need to chop off the stems, leaving about two inches from the head.

Steamed Fiddleheads

  • Set the cleaned fiddleheads in your steamer basket. Steaming helps to sustain the subtle flavors.
  • Pour in one inch of water into the steamer and bring to a boil.
  • Add the steamer basket full of the fiddleheads to the steamer being sure not to immerse them in the water.
  • Steam them for about 5 minutes or until they’re tender-crisp and still green. How long they cook will depend on how big and tough the fiddleheads are.
  • Drain and serve them hot, add butter, salt and pepper to taste if desired.

Sautéed Fiddleheads

  • In a heavy skillet, melt 3 tbsp. of butter per 1 lb. of fiddleheads. Keep the stove at medium heat.
  • When the butter melts, put the fiddleheads in the skillet and continually stir them so that the heat and butter soften the fiddleheads.
  • Once they’re tender, remove them from the pan and serve.

Boiled Fiddleheads

  • Put the cleaned fiddleheads into a stockpot.
  • Add water until the fiddleheads are submerged or use 3 cups of water per 1 lb. of fiddleheads.
  • Bring the pot to a full boil until the fiddleheads are tender, about 6-8 minutes. (NOTE: Fiddleheads will rise to the surface while they’re boiling and don’t let it alarm you when you see the water turning a dark color; it’s normal. In fact, you could drain off this water and save it to put it in your homemade soups which will give you and your family a lot of nutrients and great flavor. )
  • When they’re tender, drain in a colander; then serve adding butter, pepper and salt if desired.

Fiddleheads can also be cooked in sauces, with other greens and in soups. Try splashing some vinegar or butter over a piping hot plate for great flavor. Fiddleheads are tasty in any recipe that calls for turnip, poke or mustard greens and are a good replacement for recipes requiring asparagus. They are also good with morel mushrooms provided you cook them utilizing a white wine or white cream sauce.

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