Fiddlehead Ferns, Part Two

Eric wasn’t convinced the ferns in our yard were of the fiddlehead variety. Since I was pretty sure they were, I had him take a closer look. I pointed to the coiled tops of the ferns that hadn’t completely unfurled, and asked, “Doesn’t that look like a fiddlehead to you?”

Eric spread apart a swath of ferns and weeds along the side of yard, and this is what we found:

Behold: Fiddleheads! Apparently, not all of the ferns in our yard were fully grown. I was ecstatic, especially since Eric and I desperately needed a green vegetable to have with the pasta I was preparing for dinner (and dandelion greens were out of the question). Eric picked as many fiddleheads as he could find. Unfortunately, that was only about a dozen.

Eric advised me to thoroughly rinse the fiddleheads to rid them of dirt and any insects hiding inside them. He also suggested I steam them (as opposed to blanche).

I steamed them for a good seven minutes, possibly more. I usually like my cooked vegetables on the rare side, but I feared the fiddleheads would taste gross the closer they were to raw, so I erred on the side of caution and overcooked them slightly. They were a little more gray than bright green when I took them out of the steamer basket. The water in my saucepan had turned a rust color–from what, exactly, I have no idea.

(Humble apologies for the blurry photo.)

I melted a dollop of butter on the fiddleheads and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. It was time to dig in. It was also time to face a fear I’ve always had about fiddleheads.

Part of the reason I’m so curious about these little buggers is because, frankly, they give me the creeps. There’s something evil about them. I think it has to do with them being so tightly wound. They’re coiled like snakes, and I hate snakes. I can’t help but think the fiddleheads are going to suddenly pop open and expose an alien head that’s going to bite me in the face. This must be some kind of residual trauma from having seen Little Shop of Horrors at a young age.

I fully expected the fiddleheads to taste terrible. I mean, c’mon, how good can a fern taste? I was pleasantly surprised. They tasted like a green vegetable, like a green bean. They weren’t awful at all. In fact, they were pretty good even without butter. And they didn’t bite off my face!

Do you like fiddlehead ferns, or do they frighten you? If you like them, how do you like to prepare them? I’m interested in learning more ways to cook fiddleheads so I can be better prepared for when they grow next year.


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