What are Fiddleheads?

All ferns can be called Fiddleheads, but only the Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthioteris) is considered to be edible.  In the spring (late April through May), the tender curled heads of the fern are picked just after it makes its appearance out of the husk that houses the fronds.


Where do you find Fiddleheads?

Fiddleheads can be found growing along the sandy banks of rivers and streams, as well as at the edges of swampy areas in the forests of New Brunswick.

You can find Fiddleheads (dependent on where you live) at your local produce markets, roadside stands throughout New Brunswick, Quebec, and the New England states, and most grocery stores in May.
Fiddlehead dried frond with hand

How do I store my fresh Fiddleheads and how long will they last?

Our vacuum-packed Fiddleheads will stay crisp and green for up to three weeks in your fridge.  Submerging them in ice cold water in your fridge, with a change of water every two to three days, will keep them fresh for up to three weeks or more as well.

When I was a boy, my parents kept the
Fiddleheads in onion bags in our ground spring (which was also our drinking water) for up to two months after Fiddlehead season.  If Fiddleheads are kept in ice cold running water, they will stay fresh for a long, long time.

In our part of the country, our grocery stores display
Fiddleheads in large plastic barrels with a constant supply of fresh running water.  You simply scoop them out of the barrel with a dip screen and let them drain a few seconds.  This is how all grocery stores should keep the Fiddleheads they sell, to retain their freshness and spring green color.  Fiddleheads that are displayed in regular open bins, in the grocer aisle, will turn brown, limp and dry out from exposure to the air.
Ferns (Dried Fertile Ostrich) with Dwight Thornton

This is a picture of the dried fertile fronds of the Ostrich fern after it has released its spore. Unlike other types of ferns that dry up and fall to the ground, the fertile fronds of the Ostrich fern will remain standing for years. These fronds are sometimes harvested for dried floral decorations.  When searching for Fiddleheads in the spring, we look for these standing fronds as indicators to tell us that there are fresh Fiddleheads in that area.

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Nutritional information:

According to scientists, Fiddleheads are well on their way to being the next Superfood.

Nutritionally, the Fiddlehead is similar to spinach, which we know as being  "a good for you" vegetable, explains  Dr. DeLong.  The total antioxidant activity in Fiddleheads is twice that of blueberries, adds Dr. DeLong.  Unlike spinach, Fiddleheads contain EPA omega-3 fatty acids, as well as high concentrations of antioxidants.  Both omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants have proven to have anti-inflammatory properties, which make them very useful in the treatment and prevention of many diseases.

Agribites, Fiddlehead research springs ahead, May 2010, Agriculture and Agri-Foo Canada

The unique fatty acid and antioxidant composition of ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) fiddleheads

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