Fiddleheads are a big deal around here. Dana loves them and I feel connected to my family when I eat them – my Mother is From Nova Scotia and these delightful little dudes and dudettes are staples in the Maritimes. To cook them fresh is to briefly steam them; there`s nothing quite as good as a well-cooked vegetable and nothing quite as bad as it`s overcooked brethren.
Fiddleheads are essentially young ferns. Make sure you `straighten` one out some time – you`ll get a far better understanding of what`s going on. Fiddleheads disappear almost as quickly as they arrive as they are merely a small stop on the ride from sprout to fern. Most of them will stretch toward the sun within a few weeks and lose their fractal appearance.
Most people cook them by steaming or boiling them though they are equally delicious when roasted in the oven or cooked on the BBQ, especially if you are using coal. Many insist they have to be well-cooked (some people can get an upset stomach if eating undercooked fiddleheads) but I’ve never found that to be an article. Cook them in any of the above methods and serve them with a splash of olive oil, lemon, salt and parmesan or cheddar. They can also be pureed into a soup
Once again, you can forage or buy these. Some grocery stores carry them but they make a grand entrance at many farmer`s markets (including Wychwood, Brickworks and the St Lawrence Market in Toronto). Foraging has obvious advantages ranging from price to personal satisfaction and one major disadvantage – you have to clean a small `scummy`husk off of them. They are typically sold clean. If you`ve never had them before, buy lots. Lightly steamed with butter – I`m tempted to call them a better asparagus but I love it too much to do so. 🙂
Many people think of pickles as limited to cucumbers. There are so many other options to explore, including fiddleheads (we’ll be publishing a recipe for pickled fiddleheads this month). We pickled 6 pounds of garlic in September and we`re left with 3 jars – 1 is destined to a dear friend who loves garlic and if I don`t bring it to him soon he may have to wait until next year. Pickled beans and asparagus are other sure-fire favourites. They are great as a side dish, a treat from the fridge or added to a caesar. We will definitely be trying fiddleheads this year.
I have decided to use a recipe from the Internet this year for our fiddleheads. The source is an author named Langdon Cook; he wrote a book called the Fat of the Land which I am currently reading and adore. Mr. Cook was an executive at Amazon.com before he decided to leave the corporate world and move off the grid to a small cabin with his wife and son. His writing is great, informed and humble as he shares his successes and struggles while foraging in the Pacific Northwest. I believe he has the experience and knowledge which is why I`ll go with this one. And his results look stunning! Rather than steal a recipe, here`s a link. Check out his blog – it`s a lot of fun.
Well that`s all for today`s post in our Preserving Spring series. We are continuing to write one per day as a follow-up to the article in Edible Toronto. We`re continuing to do one-a-day until complete and you can see the entire series by clicking here.