I feel like I spent the equivalent of years in my gardens over the past few days. There was so much tilling and weeding and planting but how satisfying that it's done and looks better than I could have ever anticipated.

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As I was working in my front garden yesterday, I spotted something behind a row of hedges and let out a happy squeal. I'd spotted fiddleheads and didn't even have to go through the woods in my backyard to forage for them.

When I was a little girl living in Washington State, my mom and I used to hunt for fiddleheads and I distinctly remember the way they tasted when my mom would fry up a batch for me. I hadn't had them since I was a little girl and my discovery yesterday has left me wanting to see if I can find more. If you plan to search for fiddleheads, know that the season is almost over (usually ends in early May which is where we are), but you might be in luck of finding a bounty of them because it's been so wet and they thrive in wet conditions.

I think the reason people rave about fiddleheads is that their season is a short one and there's something special about foraging, picking, and eating this fresh treat offered free by nature for only one month out of the year.

 What Are Fiddleheads?

Fiddleheads are the top tip part of ferns that are coiled around. The best way I can think to describe what they resemble (to me, at least) is that they look coiled like a centipede does when you touch it, except that fiddleheads are green and definitely plants, not bugs.

How To Pick Fiddleheads

Look for fiddleheads that are about an inch to four inches in height and make sure that you only pick the ones that are still coiled. Once a fiddlehead has become uncoiled, you don't want to eat it. Pinch and snap the stem at about an inch below the coiled part.

Are Fiddleheads Edible?

They sure are if you like the taste of asparagus, you'll like a fiddlehead. With that said, there's a big BUT...there are some types of fiddleheads that are at risk of causing poisonous side effects if you eat them in their raw form. Before you eat a fiddlehead, you should ALWAYS confirm that the type you've picked is safe for you to eat and it's also highly recommended that you cook them before popping them into your mouth.  If you're not very familiar with fiddleheads, you should talk to someone who is before you assume that what you've found is safe to eat. It's also not a bad idea to watch some videos to learn more about fiddleheads.

How To Know Which Fiddlehead Is Safe To Eat

You'll know your fiddlehead is good if it's got a brownish coating on it as in the photo below. This thin paper-like coating is easy to remove and should be before cooking and eating your fiddlehead.  If your fiddlehead is white and fuzzy, you don't want to pick to eat because it is the poisonous variety.

Traci Taylor
Traci Taylor

What Do Fiddleheads Taste Like?

While it's been years since I've enjoyed a fiddlehead, I distinctly remember it tasting a bit like asparagus. I've heard people say fiddleheads also remind them of baby spinach.

How To Cook Fiddleheads

The very first thing you want to make sure you do after picking your fiddleheads is to wash them well, changing your water, and bathing them again a couple of times. You also want to make sure to cook them as quickly as you can after picking them so you get their full flavor. You can boil fiddleheads for 10 to 12 minutes until tender and then enjoy them with some melted butter or you can lightly sauté them in oil with some garlic and maybe even some sliced mushrooms. Experts say you should always cook your fiddleheads before consuming them because raw fiddleheads can carry food born illnesses.

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