The Eatable Fiddlehead Fern

The Eatable Fiddlehead Fern

Fiddlehead greens are the curled stalk or leaflet of Fiddlehead fern, and these curled leaflets are harvested for use as a vegetable or leafy green. Fiddleheads are harvested early in the season (Spring) before the frond has opened and reached its full height, they are cut as close as possible at ground level.

Believe it or not, but fiddlehead ferns have antioxidants, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and are high in iron and fiber (Agriculture Canada Study). The most popular verities that are harvested for food are:

  • Western Sword Fern
  • Lady Fern
  • Cinnamon Fern or Buckhorn Fern
  • Royal Fern
  •  Midin
  • Zenmai or Flowering Fern
  • Vegetable Fern

Certain varieties though, of the fiddlehead fern can be carcinogenic.

Harvesting the Fiddlehead Fern

Health Benefits of the Fiddlehead Fern

We mentioned a few nutritional benefits of the fern at the onset of the article, other benefits of the fern are, it’s rich in potassium, and low in sodium.

A draw back of eating the fiddlehead is it contains an enzyme called thiaminase, which breaks down thiamine a B-vitamin. Therefore, it is best not to consume the fern in excess, as it can lead to beriberi and other vitamin-B deficiencies.

Dinning On Fiddlehead Greens

Fiddlehead ferns grow wild in wet areas of the northeastern part of North America in the spring. Fiddleheads are a traditional dish of  Maine, and northern New England (USA) , and in some parts of northern Canada. It is said that the town of Tide Head, New Brunswick (Canada) claims itself as the “Fiddlehead Capital of the World.”

It is recommended to cooked the fiddlehead greens thoroughly before eating eating them as they do contain some traces of tannins and toxins. The recommended cooking time is 15 minutes if boiled and 10 to 12 minutes if steamed. The cooking methods of gourmet cooks, is to spread the greens into a thin layer in a steaming basket and steam them lightly, just until tender crisp.

The University of Maine states that the ostrich fiddleheads should not be Sauteed , stir-fried, or microwaved.  They say that the Fiddleheads should be boiled or steamed prior to use in recipes, and after doing so, then they can be used for sauteing, stir-frying or baking.

Recipes Using Fiddlehead Greens

Hawaiian Fern SaladHawaiian Fern Salad

1 pound warabi (fiddleheads)

1 cup water

1 tablespoon Hawaiian salt

1 (4oz.) package codfish, shredded

1 small onion, thinly sliced

2 tomatoes, cubed (can also use cherry tomatoes)

Sauce ingredients:

¼ cup soy sauce

⅓ cup lemon juice

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

Thoroughly rinse warabi and dry, then cut into 1-inch length. In a saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil, then add salt and warabi. Turn down heat to medium and cook until tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat shredded codfish on medium heat for approximately 2 minutes. Cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine warabi, codfish, onions and tomatoes.

Sauce instructions:

Mix together soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar and garlic salt. Pour over warabi salad and toss gently.

Chill until ready to serve.

Spicy Vegetable fern saladSpicy Vegetable Fern Salad

1 pound cooked shrimp and oysters

16 ounce bag of spring mix of leafy greens

4 boiled eggs, sliced

1 red onion, sliced

2 medium tomatoes sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

¼ cup soy sauce

⅓ cup lemon juice

½ cup sugar

¼ teaspoon garlic salt

2 to 3 tablespoons of wasabi  sauce

In a medium bowl mix soy sauce, lemon juice, sugar, and garlic salt. Pour dressing into a large salad bowl. Next add first 6 ingredients in the recipe list. Toss until well coated with the dressing. Plate and serve.

 

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