Unhelpful Recipes: What the Heck is a Fiddlehead?

This post is part of the ECM Fiddlehead Bloggers Hop! Be sure to check out the other fab posts on Fiddleheads from some other local bloggers.

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Until I moved to Atlantic Canada, I had never heard tell of a Fiddlehead – with the exception, of course, of the genuine article that’s found at the top of a violin. Typical Ontarian, eh? That first spring of my residence in New Brunswick, I began to see them around the Farmer’s Market and at the grocery store. Curious, I began to probe…

For those of you who have also been in the dark on this weird and delicious springtime green, a Fiddlehead is actually a type of fern. They’re only delicious while they’re young and curled so the window of the season is quite short. Sometimes you can spot them in the forest – but definitely wait until you get home to properly clean and cook them before eating.

Personally, I was taught all this great info within seconds of asking “What the heck is a fiddlehead?!” It seems my Maritime friends were eager to share in the secret delicacy. What I didn’t expect was to open up a great debate on the best way to devour these delicious green morsels. I’ve discovered that there are two schools of thought on the matter: Team “Butter is Better” vs Team “Tart and Tangy.”

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Edit: This picture is NOT an example of the genuine fiddleheads that are safe to eat. True fiddleheads are covered in a brown paperlike coating and are never fuzzy even as they grow. Shoutout to reader Rhonda for the wisdom that only a Maritimer would know!

Since, as you well know, I’m not really here to be of any help to any of you in this arena, I’ll just give you the two unhelpful recipes and let you make up your own minds.

Team Butter is Better

  1. Thoroughly rinse and drain fiddleheads. You’ll want to make sure you pull off the brown/white papery sheath to reveal just a fresh, green curl.
  2. Steam in vegetable steamer or over shallow boiling water.
  3. Toss with copious amounts of butter.
  4. Serve.

Team Tart and Tangy

  1. See above.
  2. See above.
  3. Drip on a vinegar of your choice. Personally, I like a nice balsamic but cider vinegar also works well in this context. But I’m not your mother. Use whatever vinegar you want.
  4. Serve.

I have to admit it: Fiddleheads are delicious either way (and many other, more complicated ways) but I’m definitely team Butter is Better. Butter forever! Butter for all! You might even want to add a wee sprinkle of parmesan, if you’re so inclined.

If you don’t like either suggestions, that’s fine too. As I mentioned at the top of this post, I’m participating in the ECM blog hop, providing links to some other amazing local bloggers who will probably have much more detailed and helpful guides on how to prepare these curly tendrils. But we both know that’s not going to happen here on this blog.

Happy fiddleheading!

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5 thoughts on “Unhelpful Recipes: What the Heck is a Fiddlehead?

  1. I am team “butter AND tart & tangy” and will often put vinegar (I like red wine, myself) AND butter. Lemon juice is also delicious!

    I have a great recipe for shrimp and fiddlehead pasta with lots of lemon and garlic. Soooo delicious! Made even more delicious by the fact that I only get to have it for a very short window every spring. YUM!

    • Oh yes! The lemon juice addition is delicious as well. I’d love to try them mixed with shrimp. That’s a great idea. I would imagine it’s delicious since any dark green generally works in that context: broccoli, asparagus, spinach, etc.

  2. Same! I never heard of them until moving here either! I still haven’t tried them. All this fiddlehead talk has me curious.

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