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Fiddlehead Ferns

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Fiddleheads, as the name suggests, are tightly coiled baby ferns that resemble a fiddle. New Brunswick has laid claim to being the Canadian home of these delicacies. Fresh fiddleheads are harvested just as the ostrich fern begins to poke its head through the soft earth. Fiddleheads are completely organic, grown with no additives or artificial fertilizers.

It is only in the early spring that these fronds are found in abundance along the river banks. Thus the season is short and the demand great for this unique vegetable.

HOW TO COOK FIDDLEHEADS:

1. Wash in cold water, using several water changes, briskly swishing the fiddleheads about. 2. Bring a pot of water to a vigourous boil. Use 3 cups of water for each pound. 3. Add the fiddleheads to the boiling water and simmer until just tender (about 15 minutes). 4. Drain and serve with butter, salt and pepper to taste. A few drops of vinegar may be desired.

PS: Don't be alarmed when you see your cooking water turning dark, with bits of frond in it. This is normal. In fact, if you strain this water, it may be added to home-made soups, supplying many nutrients and good flavour.

HOW TO HOME-FREEZE FIDDLEHEADS:

Take advantage of fiddleheads availability now, and freeze for later use.

1. Wash the fiddleheads in several changes of cold water. Drain. 2. Fill a pot with enough water to cover. Bring to a hard boil. 3. Place the fiddleheads in the boiling water (using a wire basket is more convenient). Return water to boil for 3 to 4 minutes. 4. Drain and immediately plunge the fiddleheads into very cold water, to cool them. 5. Place fiddleheads in freezer bags, add ice cold water to cover. Squeeze gently to eliminate air bubbles. 6. Seal the freezer bags or containers and place them in the freezer. Try to keep at least one inch between the bags to facilitate quicker freezing.

7. To use, cook from frozen.




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