Fiddlehead Ferns

I was very excited to find these unusual vegetables on sale when we were in Vancouver in May. I first discovered Fiddleheads when I lived in Montreal. They are a traditional dish in Quebec and the Martimes, as well New England in the States.

Fiddleheads packaged for a grocery store

Fiddlehead ferns are the unfurled fronds of ferns, but you can’t just pick any old fern, like these freshly furled ones we saw on our hike up High Creek Falls. I’m guessing we don’t have the right type of fern growing in the UK to harvest Fiddleheads since we don’t get them there (though we have plenty of bracken). Or could it be simply that no one knows which or when to harvest them?

Ferns out in the wild

Fiddleheads aren’t cultivated here so you only get them in season and they aren’t cheap, but they are well worth spending money on. Their taste is somewhere between asparagus and artichokes, and like those, they are delicious served with lemon and butter.

Fiddleheads prepared

To prepare, brush off any loose brown leaves and give them a good wash. Then trim the woody or brown ends off the stalks. To cook them I would recommend steaming them until tender. Then serve tossed with a dob of butter, a good squeeze of lemon juice and seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Fiddleheads served