There is something almost magical about wild food and if you are lucky enough to live in a part of the world that has plenty of it, then there is no better place to be (and be eating) in the Spring.
There I was trying to enjoy an early morning cup of coffee on the weekend when the door flew open and in came my husband and the dog back from a walk in the forest.. “There are fiddleheads!” yelled the man. Ok… but can we eat them? He wasn’t sure. Further research was needed and the some fiddlehead foraging.
When I was a kid, I remember by Dad cooking up fiddleheads and then they all but disappeared from my diet until a couple of years ago when I noticed them appearing back in stores in the Spring. We tried them and loved them but it was not until this past weekend that we made the decision to move from buyer to forager.
The first step is to know what you are looking for and luckily there are a ton of resources out there. Unlike mushrooms, we quickly learned that it would be quite difficult to poison yourself with ferns and after isolating the type of fern that we were after, there was nothing left to do but venture into the darker parts of the forest behind the house armed with some little scissors, a bag, an excited toddler and a small dog.
We were foraging Lady Ferns which are a lighter green than most of the ferns in our part of the world (British Columbia) and more delicate looking. The trick is to pick the fiddlehead at when it is still tender and curled. Only take one or two from each plant to ensure that it will continue to thrive. Once you have enough for a meal, take them home and get cooking.
There are a couple of options for the fiddleheads. I like to boil them for about 5 minutes to release a little bit of the bitterness and then either toss them into a frying pan with butter or simply give them an ice water bath after cooking to keep them crisp and then throw them into a salad. They re also great in a curry and you can check out my favourite Fiddlehead Gulai Pakis.
So do a little research, grab the family and get our there! There is a world of edible wild food waiting for you!