Goodbye, winter! No more root vegetables. No more pickles. No more maple syrup poured out on the snow — fiddleheads are popping up in bogs and forests all over Quebec, ready to be eaten.
Fiddleheads (also known as têtes de violon or les crosses de fougères) are a kind of fern that are wild harvested in the early spring when they are low to the ground and still tightly furled. They are not commercially grown – each fiddlehead is plucked by hand, straight from the forest.
Fiddleheads have a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it season – from late April to mid-May. After that, the ferns have grown too large, and have lost their tenderness. Frozen fiddleheads do exist, but are almost impossible to find. Best to get them fresh, while they are in season.
Fiddleheads Pan-Fried in Butter
- 3 cups fresh fiddleheads, ends trimmed and cleaned
- 3 tablespoons butter
- Salt and pepper to taste
Trim the discoloured ends of the fiddlehead. The dark ends are normal. Fiddleheads are like apples – they turn dark when cut and exposed to air.
Wach the fiddleheads under cold, running water until all the brown, papery membranes have washed away.
Cook the fiddleheads in boiling water for 15 minutes or steam for 10 to 12 minutes until tender. Fiddleheads should also be boiled or steamed prior to sautéing, frying or baking, as there is a risk of food poisoning from eating raw or undercooked fiddleheads.
Heat large saute pan for a few minutes over high heat, then add the butter. Once the butter is melted, throw in the steamed fiddleheads, then saute for 1-2 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper, then serve.
Other Serving Suggestions
- Make an open-faced grilled cheese sandwich, and mound some prepared fiddleheads on top
- Put prepared fiddleheads with chopped red peppers for a colourful potato salad
- Throw some prepared fiddleheads into an omelette