Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Real Fiddlehead

Awaiting Spring and wishing for Fiddle heads

I love fiddle heads. I guess other folks do too because I see them in the produce section of my local Hannaford grocery store every Spring. I have not noticed it in any other store here in Central New York. Hannaford is headquartered in Maine where fiddle heads are, IMHO, the unofficial "state vegetable".

So, "whats a fiddle head you may be asking yourself?"

It's the unfurled frond of a young ostrich fern. 
 It looks like the scrolled top of a ..well, a fiddle...

Not all fern make good eating fiddle heads. In fact, when most people talk of fiddle heads in the context of food, they usually mean Matteuccia struthiopteris, better known as Ostrich Fern.

This is what mature  M. struthiopteris looks like. They are often found in margins of streams or wet area and are easily naturalized in gardens.

Notice the little bits of brown paper like scales that cling to the crozier (unrolled fern). That's a good way to positively ID this fern. Another is a V or U shaped shaped grove in the inside of the stem. (It's a little like celery) These fiddle heads are also smooth, not at all hairy or fuzzy.

Below is not Ostrich Fern

Below is Ostrich Fern that too mature for fiddle heads. If you ind these. Remember the spot and come back early next spring.

If you haven't tried fiddleheads, you should. I like to boil them for a few minutes, drain them,then add them to a sautee pan with a bit of butter a splash of white wine, salt and some garlic powder.  Swirl around for a few minutes and serve. What is your favorite way to prepare fiddle heads?

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