We have a new delicacy in our repertoire of fresh vegetables - small green ones that resemble the head of a fiddle! The appropriately named "fiddleheads" are a seasonal vegetable that grow wild here in parts of New England. A fiddlehead is esentially a young fern that needs to be picked at just the right time - when they are barely poking their curly heads through the ground.
While I am certainly no expert on the subject of these greenies, several helpful articles are available at University of Maine and Local Foods. I also found a nice picture featuring what these young ferns go for per pound at the market - can you believe it????
First, we spent an afternoon picking them with friends at a little fern valley in Vermont. Many hands make light work, as they say, and we came home with three lbs. of fiddleheads!
First we rinsed and made sure all of the little brown, paper-like coverings were taken off.
Then we had to figure out how to cook them. After some reading and research, I decided to boil them first to kill any bacteria, and to take away the supposed bitter taste they are known to have. I boiled them in a rolling boil for about 5 minutes. See how the water is on the black side? This is apparently a good sign that the bitterness has left the fiddleheads.
Then we sauteed them in olive oil and course salt. I let the oil heat up a bit and then sauteed just until the veges were slightly tender.
And then we ate them! Yum! We agreed that they taste somewhat like asparagus.
From fern valley to table all in one day!
There is something so satisfying about picking your own food and throwing it into a pot for dinner. And because the whole gang was involved in this process, they ate them up happily with little complaint. It's true that the things we work for in life mean so much more - even to the little ones!
Do you have any creative tips on how to prepare fiddleheads?
(**Disclaimer! Please do your own research before harvesting fiddleheads. Some varieties are not edible and even dangerous to humans.**)