Spring has sprung and that means we’ll soon be cooking fiddleheads in our kitchen! I used to avoid fiddleheads because the cleaning was so tedious (there are a lot of loose ‘bits’ of fern that most pick through to remove before cooking) but that changed when we came up with this idea for cleaning fiddleheads.
There are two parts to cleaning (three if you’ve foraged them):
- If they are foraged, many will have an kind of husk on them that is easy to remove though it`s a lot of work. It`s remains affect you in step 3 below. There`s not too many shortcuts for this step.
- Cutting a fresh cut on the stem. This adds to the physical appearance of the jar and I believe it has to have a positive impact on taste (though you can treat that as a rumour).
- Removing the loose bits of fern that cling on to the fiddleheads increases flavor (as some of the `bits`may be dried or worse) and certainly creates a clearer brine. This also applies to non-pickled fiddleheads of course too!
Our friend Margaret recently told me of people placing their crop on top of an old bed sheet and tossing them in a light wind. Great idea but I was flying solo and had not wind.
Our solution to speed things up:
- Place cooling rack (we use this one for preserves) on top of a pot with a small to medium amount of fiddleheads in it.
- Turn pot and rack upside down.
- Shake well over sink
- Flip everything over, give a rinse (even better if you can rinse on the rack – ours covers the entire sink so they drain right through.
It`s fantastically fast and removes a lot of extra work – any other tips or tricks out there?