A delicate harbinger of spring, fiddlehead ferns show up in farmers’ markets and specialty produce stores for only a few weeks
in Eastern states. With a unique flavor that evokes asparagus, artichokes, and green beans, they’re a surprisingly good source
of omega-3 fatty acids and pack twice the antioxidant punch of blueberries. Seize and savor these earthy, ephemeral delicacies
when you can.
Season: April through July, depending on region.
How to Choose Fiddlehead Ferns
Fiddleheads are the young, furled fronds of the ostrich fern. Choose those that are bright green, tightly wound, and firm, with no brown or mushy spots and stems no longer than an inch or two.
How to Store Fiddlehead Ferns
Fiddleheads lose their fresh flavor and texture quickly, so use them as soon as possible. If you must store them, wrap tightly and refrigerate up to two days.
How to Prepare Fiddlehead Ferns
Rub off the brown, papery coating and wash fiddleheads well in several changes of water. Trim or snap off the woody stems.
How to Cook Fiddlehead Ferns
If eaten raw, fiddleheads taste bitter and can cause stomach upset, so they need to be cooked until tender throughout. Simple preparations allow fiddleheads’ unique flavor to shine as a side dish or garnish for salad or meat. Boil or steam fiddleheads for 5 to 10 minutes and serve with melted butter and lemon or a simple vinaigrette, or sauté with garlic in olive oil.
Real Simple Fiddlehead Fern Recipes:
Fruits and vegetables at their peak right now.
Find out what's in season in your area right now, then locate a farmers' market near you.