I must have been about 5 years old the first time I saw fiddleheads. The neighbors called my parents over to see what they had harvested. As I peered into the old washtub filled to the brim with fiddleheads I was struck by how much they looked like coiled caterpillars. I certainly didn't share my parents' enthusiasm for eating one. I can't say for sure how long it was before I summoned up the courage to try one, but I'm pretty sure it took a while.
I made a fiddle pie this morning with frozen fiddleheads leftover from last year's bounty and I suddenly realized how close we are to fiddlehead season. For those of you who are wondering, fiddlehead pie is more like quiche with eggs and cheese and a few secret ingredients.
For those of you who don't know what fiddleheads are or haven't tried them (I'm always surprised by the number of Mainers who have never tried them), the picture to the left shows them in their natural habitat.
Here in zone 4 they typically emerge along streams and riverbanks sometime in mid May. Once picked and cleaned they can be steamed, boiled or even stir-fried and added to your favorite recipes.
Although I use them in a variety of ways, the first "mess" is always cooked in enough boiling water to cover them and served topped with melted butter. Some prefer to add a dash of salt and pepper, but these tender morsels really don't need it.
If you are interested in learning more about fiddleheads, visit Fiddleheads: Valuable Nutrients and Robust Flavor in Nature's Free Food. It provides detailed information for identification, harvesting, cleaning, cooking and serving fiddleheads - and even includes one of my own recipes.
Until Next Time . . . HAPPY GARDENING!
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