Fresh Fiddleheads - Fiddlehead Greens

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Fresh Fiddleheads
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"Thank you for delivering my Morels and Fiddleheads so promptly.  They're perfect!  the most beautiful ones I have ever seen (or tasted!) Thanks again."   Maureen D. - Missouri

The products we received - Morels, Fiddleheads & Ramps - were beautiful and fresh. The Detroit Free Press. April 21, 1999

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A Word About Fiddleheads. . .

A Fiddlehead is a fern so young and new that it hasn't yet "unfurled" and opened its leaves. The end is still curled in a tight spiral, ready to unroll as the sun warms it and it gathers strength and size. This spiral shape reminds many people of the end of a violin, hence the name "Fiddlehead."

Early Spring signals the arrival of "Fiddlehead season," when aficionados begin combing the riverbanks and forest floor. Why? Because Fiddlehead ferns are delicious, with a remarkable wild flavor. They can be easily prepared in a variety of ways - resulting in a delicious side dish or as the "main event."

The flavor? It has been described as similar to green beans with a hint of artichoke. But descriptions do not begin to capture the flavor. You must try them to know the wonderful flavor and delightful crunch of Fiddleheads.

The coiled end of the fern is called a "crosier." Ferns should be picked early in the morning when they are still very young and fresh. The "crosier" should be tightly curled, and should snap off crisply. They must be washed carefully and rubbed to remove the paper-y brown skin on the outside. Avoid yellow or "floppy" ferns. Trim the base leaving a tiny tail.

The basic preparation for Fiddleheads is very simple - but they may also be used in a variety of gourmet recipes.

Whether you go the simple route, or choose something more elaborate, be certain to exercise caution if you decide to harvest Fiddleheads yourself. There are many varieties of ferns, and only the Ostrich Fern is recommended for consumption.

If you aren't experienced and you don't know a fern expert, you may be better off sticking with a reliable commercial dealer.


Fiddlehead Greens

iddlehead Greens are the premium wild forage vegetable of Spring.

No other vegetable matches the exquisite form and delicious flavor of fresh fiddleheads.

Fiddleheads emerge in their miniature dervish dancers around the first week of May. In lowland forests from the Great Lakes to the Maritimes of Canada the Ostrich Fern emerges in profusion.

Tiny gray-green spirals reaching into the first really warm days of Spring. Each of them wearing their own little fur overcoat to protect them when it was chillier weather. Snapped up and eaten by whoever has the sense and taste to do it.

By Summer the ferns will be up 4 feet tall thick even after our feast. The clean lowlands of Nova Scotia and along the East Coast of the United States have been successfully managed for commercial harvest for more than 200 years. They are wild lands but for the harvest each Spring.


In selecting fiddleheads look for a tight coil and only an inch or two of stem beyond the coil. There is a brown papery chaff that surrounds the fiddlehead on the plant. Much of this will have been removed prior to purchase, but some may remain. (See below for ways to remove Fiddlehead chaff.)

The outside of the coil should have an intricate pattern of tiny leaves arranged along the sides of the spiral. Size of the coil should be 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. Larger size is acceptable as long as they are tightly coiled. Common bracken and other ferns also produce tightly coiled new growth in the Spring but none of these are suitable for eating.

Good fiddleheads should have a distinctly crisp texture, both raw and after brief cooking.

Handling Fresh Fiddleheads

If more than 2 inches of stem remains attached beyond the coiled part of the fiddlehead snap or cut it off. If any of the paper chaff remains on the fiddleheads you may rub it off by hand. Since the chaff is very light, you may want to clean off the chaff outdoors by fanning them or lightly shaking them in an open wire salad basket.

After the chaff is removed wash the fiddleheads in several changes of cold water to remove any dirt or grit. Drain the fiddleheads completely. Use them fresh, and soon after harvest.

If you must store fresh Fiddleheads keep well cooled (35 F) and tightly wrapped to prevent drying out. If you have stored them, you may wish to trim the stem again just before use since the cut end will darken in storage. They may be kept in refrigeration for about 10 days, although flavor will be best if used as soon as possible after harvest.


The flavor of fiddleheads goes well with cheeses, tomato sauce and oriental cuisine. Excellent with Hollandaise sauce.

Fiddleheads are versatile and easy to use. They have a mild taste reminiscent of Asparagus with an added nutty bite all their own.

Fiddleheads are versatile and easy to use. They have a mild taste reminiscent of Asparagus with an added nutty bite all their own.

Fiddleheads are excellent marinated in vinegar and oil or as a crunchy pickle. As a featured vegetable they will please the most demanding palate. Fiddleheads can be used in similar ways to any firm green vegetable such as Asparagus or Broccoli florets.

Fiddleheads will lend their delicious flavor and elegant visual appeal to many familiar dishes. Use them as a perfect featured vegetable in a simple stir-fry.

They are wonderful in pasta dishes with a sauce made from Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar. Sauté, stir-fry or steam briefly to retain their crunchy texture and bright green color. Do not overcook.

Fiddlehead ferns are a good source of vitamins A and C. Fiddleheads should not be served raw as they have a slight bitterness until cooked and may cause stomach upset if eaten raw in quantity. Health Canada advises that fresh fiddleheads must be properly cooked before being consumed.

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Fiddleheads, Morels & Wild Leeks
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