Question: What are fiddleheads?
Answer: A Fiddlehead is a fern so young and new that it hasn't yet "unfurled" and opened its leaves. The end is still curled in a tight spiral, ready to unroll as the sun warms it and it gathers strength and size. This spiral shape reminds many people of the end of a violin, hence the name "Fiddlehead." Nearly all ferns have fiddleheads, but only those of the ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) are recommended for consumption.
This wild delicacy appears in the early spring during April and May. The tender little rolls of fern are harvested within an inch or two of the ground as soon as they appear. The heads are first rinsed and then blanched in lightly salted boiling water. Their delicate flavor has been described by some as similar to green beans with a hint of artichoke.
For more recipes and serving suggestions, see our extensive recipe collection.
Back to FAQ Index