Fiddleheads are the young coiled fronds of the ostrich fern. Nearly all ferns have fiddleheads, but the ostrich fern is very distinct. Ostrich fern fiddleheads, are about an inch in diameter, can be identified by the brown papery scale-like covering on the uncoiled fern, and the deep ”U”-shaped groove on the inside of the fern stem.
Depending on where you live, the start emerging in mid April, May, and early June on the banks of rivers, streams, and brooks throughout the northeastern United States.
To prep the fiddleheads, any leftover “silk” should be removed. The silk is a thin, brown, papery covering that resembles a peanut casing. You can rub it off with your fingers in a bath of cold ice water. Drain the water and then rinse them again in a bowl of cold water, gently agitating them with your fingers and pouring off the water until it is free of particles. Drain well and pat dry.
These springtime delicacies have a taste reminiscent of asparagus. If you cook the fiddlehead like an asparagus you really can’t go wrong. Their flavor is mild, they are pleasantly crunchy. They can be cooked in many different ways, from steamed, to boiled, or dipped in beer batter and fried. I like them sautéed with some garlic and lemon juice in olive oil and butter, lightly sprinkled with salt and pepper. There are many recipes to be found on the internet so you can pick them, wash and they will freeze well. Good Hunting
For those of you that are into canning, there may be a declassification soon of my top secret canning recipe for pickled fiddleheads .