The season is finally here–fiddleheads are up! They’ve been up around here for a few weeks actually, and we’ve gotten out to pick a couple of time so far. Ben did a little exploring during his lunch break about two weeks ago and found a new patch (well, not new, but new to us) along the river behind his work. He’d long suspected there might be some there, and had searched unsuccessfully other years, but this year he found the spot! Last weekend we went on our annual family picking excursion to one of our favorite spots. It was a little picked over, and we were just a tiny bit late in terms growth, but between the 5 adults and 4 kids, we still managed to pick quite a lot. We’ve been eating fiddleheads like crazy, but I’m still not tired of them, so hopefully we’ll get to pick a little more. Our other favorite spot tends to be ready a little on the late side, so I’m hoping that there will be some good picking still to come.
Fiddleheads are easy to identify once you know what to look for, but if you are new to fiddleheading, please seek out someone to show you the ropes before picking on your own–there are many cute little curled up baby ferns out there at this time of year, and they aren’t all fiddleheads! Fortunately, you can buy fresh fiddleheads at this time of year in many grocery stores, specialty food stores, and roadside stands (in northern New England at least), so even if you don’t pick them yourself, you can certainly enjoy eating them!
My favorite way to cook fiddleaheads is extremely easy–nothing fancy, just simple and delicious. Here’s my basic recipe:
1 pound fresh fiddleheads
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1.) Trim off the ends of fiddlehead stems if desired (there’s no need to trim them if they look clean and aren’t too long). Place fiddleheads in a large pot of water and, using clean hands, swish the fiddleheads around vigorously in the water. This will help to loosen the brown papery skin on the fiddleheads. Dump the fiddleheads into a colander and rinse well several times to remove as much of the brown skin as possible.
2.) Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then transfer the fiddleheads into the boiling water. Return fiddleheads to a rolling boil, and continue boiling for 8 minutes.
3.) Empty the pot into a colander and run the fiddleheads under cold water. This will cool them quickly, while also removing any of the remaining brown skin.
4.) Place a skillet on the stove, turn it up to medium-high, and add the oil. Once the oil is slightly hot, add the garlic to the oil and allow the garlic to cook in the oil for 30 seconds or so, then add the fiddleheads. Sautee the fiddleheads, stirring frequently, for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the fiddleheads from the heat. Add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper, toss well to distribute evenly, and serve.