How’s that for a tongue twister?

At this week’s Saturday market, like the last one, we will have (among other things) an abundance of foraged fiddleheads picked from ostrich ferns, now bursting out of creek floodlands and the forest floor (we won’t tell you exactly where!). Like any wildcrafted food, we harvest them with restraint, picking only 2-3 fronds per plant and leaving the others for the plant’s own use to help ensure sustained vitality. Deryk, who has picked fiddleheads in this area for decades, has observed how some patches have diminished in yield over the years. He owes this to the increasing popularity of wildcrafting in recent years, resulting in over-harvesting.

Now, with temperatures becoming milder, this will be our last week for fiddleheads this season. So get them while you can!

How to cook fiddleheads

This is the way Farmers Paul & Laire prefer to cook these babies! You’ll need:

  • 4-8 ounces fiddleheads
  • water with a pinch of salt for blanching
  • a knob of butter
  • a squeeze of lemon or a splash of good vinegar
  • salt & pepper
  • other seasonings, such as crushed garlic or pickled jalepeños
  1. Wash the fiddleheads in cold running water or by soaking them in a bowl of water, to clean off any debris. Many fiddleheads are still wrapped in a brown papery film that is last year’s dried fronds, and those should be removed. Meanwhile, bring your blanching water to a boil, and heat a skillet on medium-high.
  2. Blanch the fiddleheads for 2-3 minutes, until they turn a vibrant green (similar to asparagus). Do not over-boil or they will become too soft.
  3. Melt the butter on the skillet. Drain the fiddleheads, then spread onto the skillet and fry for another couple minutes.
  4. Transfer them to a bowl and give them a splash of lemon juice or vinegar. Season to your taste buds’ content. (Lately we’ve been adding chopped pickled peppers to almost every dish – delish!) Serve immediately.

Fried fiddleheads

About Farmer Paul

Paul grew up in a yuppie-laden Toronto suburb, though he lucked out having been raised by eccentrics who rejected the neighbourhood status quo and converted the lawn into organic gardens. In his starry-eyed 20s, his obsession with living sustainably subdued his interest in high-tech anything (somehow scraping by with a computer science degree all the same). His interest in farming was piqued while apprenticing at Everdale, an organic farm in Ontario, and studying permaculture design in BC. He's since operated three market gardens, and now takes a lead in garden management and cheesemaking at Snow Lake Keep.

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