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In Season: Fiddleheads

A beautiful fiddlehead growing in the wild...
A beautiful fiddlehead growing in the wild...
Photo: Tie Guy II

Although it is still a few weeks until spring crops are available, with all the warm weather lately, many wild foods, such as ramps, day lillies and fiddleheads are starting to appear.  Fiddleheads, also known as ostrich ferns, grow in the wild and like wet shady areas, especially near rivers and streams.  When foraging for fiddleheads, pick the ones that are just starting to come out of the ground and that are still tightly coiled.  Fiddleheads grow in clumps and you should never pick an entire clump, instead leave at least 3 so that the plant will survive for next year.  If foraging for your food doesn't appeal to you, they can also be found at Whole Foods Market and the Willimantic Food Co-op. 

These delicious little ferns are high in vitamin A and C and have a nutty taste, similar to asparagus.  When cooking your fiddleheads, wash them well, removing any of the papery chaff on them.  They can be boiled, steamed, roasted or sauteed.  When preparing them, the fiddlheads should change color but not become mushy - it should only take about 10 minutes, depending on your cooking method.

The following recipe was inspired by one created by City Market in Burlington, VT:

Sauteed Fiddleheads


  • 1 lb fiddleheads, washed and trimmed of any mushy spots

  • 1/4 cup chopped onion (about 1/2 an onion)

  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped

  • 2 tbps canola or grapeseed oil

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce

  • 1/4 cup white wine

  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper


Steam or boil your fiddleheads, for 8-10 minutes, until they have changed in color, but still have a little crunch.  Meanwhile, heat oil and add onions and garlic, sauteing until soft.  In a small bowl, mix together honey, soy sauce, white wine and pepper.  Add fiddlheads to pan along with sauce and saute until everything is hot.  Serve immediately.




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