The fiddlehead is perhaps one of the most well-known wild edible. It is very tasty and cooked like asparagus.
Usually, when one says fiddlehead they mean the Ostrich Fern fiddlehead. This time, we are instead harvesting the bracken fern, an incredibly common fern in the north woods. The fiddlehead is shaped somewhat like an eagle’s talon with a silver-grey hair covering the stalk.
Harvest them when they are about 6-8 inches tall and not maturing, meaning, not yet uncurling and showing their leafs.
To cook them, give them a wash and rub the hairs off of them. It doesn’t take too long and the hairs come off easily. The bracken fern must be cooked before being consumed. They can be steamed for 30-45 minutes in two changes of water until tender-crisp or fried with butter or olive oil. They taste and are used much like asparagus.
Once they start unfurling, they become inedible as they tend to get more bitter. This is an example of a maturing fiddlehead that I would not consume.
They can be gathered in abundance and make for a delicious meal from our own forest and prove to be way cheaper (just a little time and work) than buying them at gourmet prices at restaurants or at the store.
Mmm, a great and tasty wild edible!