Chris' Corner: Fiddlehead season is here!! ... but not for long

Fiddlehead season is here!! ... but not for long

What are fiddleheads?

They are a fern, recently sprouted, so young and new that it hasn't opened it leaves yet or "unfurled", aptly named as they resemble the coiled end of a violin.
sprouting fiddleheads
Fiddlehead ferns are delicious when picked and cooked during their very short season, a few weeks in early spring.  The have a remarkable "wild" flavour some say is similar to green beans with a hint of artichoke.  This description fails to convey the flavour of this delicious plant.

If you are not an expert, I would not recommend trying to pick them yourselves as not all varieties of ferns are edible, but rather head to your local farmer's market (or to most Loblaws, Metro and No Frills in Southern Ontario).  Apparently, Ostrich ferns are recommended for consumption.  If you do try and pick them, try to pick no more than three fiddleheads per plant.  The plant grows seven fronds and if you pick more than three, you might risk killing the plant.
ostrich fern


Further, food poisoning can result from eating raw or undercooked fiddleheads. 

Before cooking, wash carefully to remove the papery brown skin on the outside.  Avoid yellow or "floppy" ferns, trim the base leaving the tail.  Then Boil or cook appropriately.

Here are sites with some interesting recipes:
New Brunswick fiddlehead recipes
More Fiddlehead recipes
Fettucdini with Fiddleheads and Bocconcini
Fiddlehead recipes from

fiddlehead piefiddlehead-almonds

Here are some sites for information on how to grow them:
How to grow fiddleheads
Grow fiddlehead ferns
ostrich fern leaf
I was introduced to this delicacy by the husband, born in Eastern Canada, of a cousin of mine.  Though I have never attempted to grow (for consumption) or cook them, on the occasions that I have been lucky enough to try them, I have been impressed with their unique flavour and texture. If you are timid, like me, to consider trying to cook them yourself, look for a fiddlehead dish at a local restaurant that specializes in fresh seasonal dishes. 

Chris Smith CSSBB
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Comment balloon 8 commentsChris Smith • May 30 2011 09:22AM


Very interesting, thanks for sharing this post, I had no idea what a fiddlehead was until now.

Posted by Brian England, MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ (Arizona Focus Realty) over 9 years ago

Chris this is very interesting, i have heard of fiddler crabs but not fiddle heads, thanks for the info

Posted by Myers Jackson, America's Auctioneer (Auctioneer, Texas Flip N Move ) over 9 years ago

Barbara, I grow ferns and hostas in the shadier areas of my back yard also

Brian, and now you know... the rest of the story.

Myers, if you have the chance, try a fiddlehead dish during this short season at a local restaurant

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 9 years ago favorite color is green so I got an extra kick out of your post...Yum and thank you

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 9 years ago

This is useful information Chris. Have never eaten we will look for them on our next walk in the forest..although we still won't eat them from there.

Posted by Al & Peggy Cunningham, Brokers, Our Family Wants To Help Your Family! (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 9 years ago

Richie, I am glad you got a kick out of the post

Al and Peggy, I wouldn't try picking them myself either, but if you are at a restaurant... perhaps ...

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 9 years ago

Chris, what an interesting plant. I will heed your advice and not pick them myself, i would probably end up getting ill, but now I'm motivated to hunt some down. I haven't seen them around here, but I'm sure they exist. I'll try the local farmer's market, somebody there should either have them or know where I can get them.

Posted by Malcolm Johnston, Trenton Real Estate (Century 21 Lanthorn Real Estate LTD., Trenton, Ontario) over 9 years ago

If you want to taste them this year, Malcolm, time is running out... a local restaurant that serves seasonal or local fare might have fiddleheads as an entre or a side dish.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 9 years ago