Fiddleheads are slightly poisonous, but if they are processed correctly, the taste, freshness and nutrition are at peak. To identify the consumable fiddleheads from their more poisonous spring fern cousins, you look for a brown-paper like covering - other ferns have a fuzzy, cotton-ball like covering, and those cannot be consumed! To keep fiddleheads abundant, year after year, harvest only a couple from each plant, leaving 3 or 4 in the ground. Our friend, Kylie, loves to walk in the woods, and she took her time carefully harvesting them for the past couple of days. Luckily, she avoided the start of black fly season too!
Freckles, our Australian Shepherd, and a small basket of just picked fiddleheads.
Fiddleheads soaking in the sink.
Once you have your bunch of fiddleheads - start prepping for processing: Fill a sink with cold water, and let them soak, occasionally swishing around to get the brown covering off. Fill a large pot with water and place it on the stove, ready for blanching. Get the pot of water boiling, and add the fiddleheads for 5 minutes, per batch. Immediately plunge them in a sink filled with cold water and ice cubes to stop further cooking. Get a box, line it with a towel, and gently dry the blanched fiddleheads.
Drain them before blanching...
Take your dried fiddleheads and put them in a zippered bag... try to get as much air out as possible.
These are ready to freeze, or fry up n' eat!
It is Important to note that the finished bag is not ready to eat right away... they should be cooked again before consuming. We really like them pan fried with butter, garlic, lemon, salt and pepper. You could boil or steam them too, for 8-10 minutes. They keep fresh in your fridge for a couple of weeks, or they need to be frozen for later use...
We finished our last bag of frozen fiddleheads from last year, last week - Now, that's good timing!