Fiddlehead Facts

Fiddlehead Facts
Fiddlehead is an early phase in the life cycle of fern, when young shoots are tightly coiled in the upper part and shaped like a seahorse. Most types of ferns that are used in human diet can be found in temperate parts of Northern Hemisphere. They prefer moist, shady areas and usually grow near the streams, in the wet woodlands and open meadows. Fiddleheads are part of human diet for centuries. They are not cultivated, but rather harvested from the wild and consumed only during the spring.
Interesting Fiddlehead Facts:
Fiddleheads of most species of fern are usually one or two inches long, while coiled part is one inch wide.
Fiddleheads have smooth green "stem" covered with brown, papery scales.
Fiddleheads of most types of ferns grow in the clusters of 3 to 12.
Fiddleheads are available from May to June.
Harvest of fiddleheads doesn't disturb further growth and development of the fern unless too much fiddleheads are removed from the plant (at least few fiddleheads need to remain attached to the rhizome). Fiddleheads left on the plant unfurl and transform into new leaves, better known as fronds. Fully developed fronds have bitter taste and they are not edible. That's why they need to be harvested when they are young (coiled).
Some of the most popular and most commonly consumed types of ferns (fiddleheads) are Lady fern, Ostrich fern, Royal fern and Cinnamon fern.
Fiddleheads are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and B3 and minerals such as magnesium, iron, potassium and phosphorus.
Fiddleheads have gelatinous and succulent, but also crunchy texture (even after cooking). Their taste is often described as blend of artichoke, asparagus and pine nuts.
Fiddleheads need to be thermally processed before consumption to ensure elimination of bitter compounds, potential toxins and microorganisms that can be found on the surface. When they are not properly prepared, fiddleheads can induce diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and headache in humans. These symptoms usually appear few to 12 hours after consumption, and last one to three days.
Fiddleheads have very short shelf life and they need to be consumed shortly after the harvest. They can be boiled, steamed, sautéed in butter or pickled. Frozen and canned fiddleheads are also available.
Fiddleheads can be paired with spring onions, morel mushrooms, pea, artichoke, black olives, potatoes, lemon and grapefruit, as well as cured meat, white fish, cheese and shrimps.
Unlike the other types of green vegetables, fiddleheads are an excellent source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Fiddleheads are rich source of antioxidants that can prevent development of various disorders.
Fiddleheads of Bracken fern contain carcinogenic substances and they are not recommended for human consumption.
Fiddleheads have very short lifespan. They last only few days.

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