There are some vegetables that are standard for me. If you looked in my fridge on a given day there would probably be cabbage, spinach, broccoli, maybe green beans or asparagus. However, sometimes you just want to step off the page a little. Shake things up! When you do, there is a world of vegetables you can explore. Today, let’s focus on fiddleheads.
So this is the part when you ask, “Seriously, is that really the name?” Well, I would ask that question too, but just look at them! The name really does fit when you think about the very top of a fiddle/violin, which has a scroll like shape. Fiddleheads are the tightly coiled tips of ferns. They are most widely found in the United States in the northern plain states, the north east coast and throughout most of Canada.
The vegetable is considered a delicacy partially because it is harvested very close to the ground before the fern’s frond has uncoiled. In addition to the fact that fiddleheads must be foraged, the vegetable is only available in the spring months…typically from mid-April through May.
Nutritional Value and Flavor
Looking for more Omega-3 in your diet? Here’s some! Fiddleheads also have omega-6 fatty acids, iron and it very rich in fiber. The flavor of fiddleheads is often described as an asparagus flavor but with hints of nuttiness. It is also likened to wild spinach. You may be able to find fiddleheads at your local farmer’s market but it’s not widely available so do your research. If your grocer has a wild food section, you may be able to find it there.
Fiddleheads are best when consumed quickly. For some context to how quickly… we’re talking within a day. The shelf-life is short, for sure, so it won’t be long before the vibrant green coils turn to brown. So remember…cook it quickly.
Ways to Cook Fiddleheads
Before you cook fiddleheads, make sure you have rinsed them thoroughly so you don’t have any dirt or grittiness when it’s time to eat. Raw fiddleheads carry a toxin called shikimic acid; therefore you want to make sure that you are not eating it raw. You also don’t want to eat fiddleheads in very large portions. Eating raw or in large portions may upset your stomach.
There are multiple ways you can cook fiddleheads. They only need to be lightly cooked, and you can steam, boil, pickle, stir-fry or simply sauté in butter. The world is your fiddlehead!
Photo Credit: Flickr
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