Fiddlehead Season Could Be Right Around The Corner
I know, I know. You wanna tell me I'm shooting my mouth off since there's still snow on the ground and the ice has just barely started going out, and we may even get some more snow tomorrow. But I was told once by an old farmer, that late season snow is just poor man's fertilizer, so maybe fiddlehead season will be crazy this year! Besides, we need to up our Spring game and get Mother Nature to submit!
Fiddleheads are the young stage in growth for the Ostrich Fern. You find them popping up in mid to late spring along the shore line next to streams, lakes, and rivers. You can see them as early as the end of April, and if we're lucky, sometimes they'll stay around til June. It all depends on when that snow finally melts. It's always about the snow around here. Argh....
They've been a delicacy in my family for as long as I can remember, and my grandfather used to talk about going down by the river with his father to pick fiddleheads and ramps. There are other young ferns look a bit like them as well, so make sure you know exactly what your looking for before you forage and eat, which is just a good practice whenever it comes to foraging veggies from the woods.
Even if you get it right and snag a big batch of fiddleheads, make sure to clean and rinse them thoroughly. Then, make sure you cook them well before you eat them, about ten minutes should do it. I've heard so many stories of tourists who bought them by the side of the road, and then just threw them in a salad raw.
If you make this sad mistake you will regret it. You will be nauseous in ways that you will never forget. No one is exactly sure why they make you sick, but you should consult a health professional if you do feel sick. Foodborne illness is nothing to mess around with.
According to a post from VisitMaine.com, there are some unwritten rules for harvesting fiddleheads responsibly. Check out these tips:
- Only two or three fiddleheads should be taken from each clump, leaving some on the plant to mature and reproduce.
- Pick only enough for you and leave some for the next picker.
- Make sure you have permission from the landowner to pick.
Now that you've learned to be safe instead of sorry, cook those buggers up and eat them! They have a delicious earthy flavor with overtones of asparagus and spinach, with a hint of mushroom-y woodiness. I'm getting hungry thinking about it. Check out some recipes here, thanks to the folks at UMaine.
Sure you can buy fiddleheads at the store, but where's the fun in that? It's an awesome outdoor activity that you can do with the whole family. And just maybe, you can start a tradition with your kids that they pass on for generations to come!