Fiddlehead Ferns

Fiddlehead Ferns, Vancouver Island, BC
Fiddlehead Ferns, Vancouver Island, BC, Photo By Bud Logan

On Vancouver Island, we have one good Fiddlehead Fern, the lady fern. A Fiddlehead is a young fern whose end is still curled in a tight spiral. This spiral shape reminds many people of a fiddle, hence the name.

They are ready to harvest in early spring, they are delicious as a main course or as a side dish. The flavor has been described as similar to green beans with a hint of artichoke. But descriptions do not begin to describe what they really taste like. You must try them yourself to know the wonderful flavor that awaits you.

The coiled end of the fern is called a crosier. Ferns should be picked early in the morning when they are still very young and fresh. The crosier should be tightly curled and should snap off crisply. They must be washed carefully and rubbed to remove the papery brown skin on the outside.

The basic preparation for Fiddleheads is very simple, but can also be used in a variety of gourmet recipes. Whether you go the simple route or choose something more elaborate, be certain to exercise caution if you decide to harvest them yourself. There are many varieties of ferns, but only the lady fern is recommended for consumption on the coast. They must be cooked very well.

If you aren’t experienced, and you don’t know a fern expert, please be cautious and try only a very small amount first, then wait a few days before consuming more.

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One thought on “Fiddlehead Ferns”

  1. I was born on the Sunshine Coast, and spent my younger years there. My Grandpa would find fiddleheads during the season. In my teens, my parent’s bought property in Keremeos to begin ‘growing’ an organic farm. Our first big crop was strawberries, then garlic. Of course it took some time to establish the various fruit trees. I have recently been ‘uprooted’ to Comox; I found your sight and am very interested in whichever wildish produce you provide. Please let me know, I found you on one of the Farmer’s Market sites. I am also looking for farm fresh organic eggs, as I cannot have chickens were I am living at this time. I was getting at least a dozen a day, before leaving the Similkameen, and I haven’t eaten an egg since!! I used to joke with my egg customers about only consuming what I call ‘real’ eggs. Thank you for any info. you can provide. I also used to go mushroom picking with my mom, on the coast, (we were living in Davis Bay at the time) my favourites were the Chanterelles. Meg.

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