Inventory, 5 lbs : 0
This item was last sold on : 06/27/14
Fiddlehead Ferns are available during spring months.
The Fiddlehead fern, AKA young croziers, is not a species, rather it represents the point of maturity of the plant. Fiddlehead is the name given to the coiled frond of the fern that has been harvested at its youthful stage of growth. Ferns are not typically classified as a food plant and they are unique in their botanical composition. They are a non-flowering vascular plant. Vascular plant tissues serve as a conductor, circulating nutritional and photosynthetic resources throughout the plant. This directly translates within the textural and flavor composition of fiddleheads. Choice Fiddlehead fern varieties include Lady fern and Ostrich fern. The Bracken fern is one of the most common and widely distributed of all Fiddlehead types but it has been scientifically proven to contain high levels of carcinogens and should be consumed with caution or avoided altogether.
Fiddleheads are unique in both appearance and flavor. The young shots of the fern are tightly wound into a circular button-like shape. Fuzzy tawny brown scales cover the kelly green stems, serving as a protective element for the plant at its youthful growing stage. The texture is crunchy and succulent with a slightly gelatinous flesh. The flavor of raw fiddleheads is both grassy and woodsy with a notably tannic and mineral-like finish. Cooked fiddleheads develop fuller flavor with rich notes of artichoke and pine nuts and the tannic finish dissipates.
Fiddleheads are an excellent source of vitamins A and C and are rich in niacin, magnesium, iron, potassium, and phosphorus. They are also rich in antioxidants and bioflavonoids, which are plant chemicals that help protect against disease.
Fiddleheads have a fragile shelf-life, spoiling rapidly once plucked. Within a few days, they will quickly lose their elasticity and create a gummy film, an absolute indicator that the plant is no longer edible. Common cooking methods include steaming and boiling but fiddleheads are best showcased sautéed in olive oil or butter. They will retain their crunchiness and achieve new flavors that cannot be reached with water based cooking methods. Fiddleheads pair well with other spring food plants such as snap peas and pea tendrils, morel mushrooms, green garlic and spring onions, artichokes, grapefruit and lemons and stinging nettles. Other favorable food parings include cured meats such as proscuitto and pancetta, melting cheeses and hard grating cheese, shrimp, white fish, black olives and potatoes. Fiddleheads can be enhanced with herbs such as marjoram, rosemary, tarragon, basil and thyme.
The Ostrich fern grows wild throughout North America from British Columbia to Northeastern Canadian Provinces and Northeastern United States. It is also found in limited regions of Alaska including the Kenai Peninsula and Anchorage. The Lady fern is a Western fern variety with growing ranges from California to Alaska. Disjunct populations of Lady ferns have been found growing in Ontario and Quebec. The Ostrich fern thrives in moist shady bottomlands and stream banks. The lady fern is less discerning: it can be found in wet woodlands, open meadows and above timberline. The fiddlehead represents one of the most important growing periods of the fern's life cycle. Ferns regenerate through the spreading of rhizomes (root structure). The fronds specifically emerge from the soil to seek out and provide nutrients for the plant's root system before the fronds die back in the fall months. Overharvesting of fiddleheads from the same plant can exhaust the root's nutrient reserve to the point of killing the plant.
Recipes that include Fiddlehead Ferns. One is easiest, three is harder.
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