Fiddleheads look like tightly rolled ancient scrolls and are beautiful and easy on the eyes. Fiddleheads do not serve ornamental purposes, you can eat them, or integrate them into your dishes.
Fiddleheads are not common. They are tightly coiled tips of ferns which are only available in early spring when ferns grow their new shoots. Even during spring, fiddleheads are available for a short period.
What do fiddleheads taste like? Some people claim that fiddleheads taste like a cross between baby spinach and asparagus. As regards the flavor, you can detect a little hit of mushroom or artichoke. Fiddleheads have a grassy taste to them, and a flavor that reminds you of springtime. There is also that hint of a nutty flavor.
Fiddleheads have a bright flavor and crisp texture that can be easily lost if left out for too long. The ostrich ferns from which they are obtained are very popular and easy to access.
Nutritional Benefits of Fiddleheads
Fiddleheads are harvested when the plant is still young and close to the ground. They are not just enjoyed for their taste alone, they have a host of nutritional benefits to offer the human body. Fiddleheads classify under the category of nutritionally dense food items. This simply means that it is low in calories but not lacking in nutrients.
One hundred grams of serving contains just 34 calories. This feature all makes it fit right into a weight loss diet. Not only can you get nutrients without increasing your calorie intake, fiddleheads contain a substantial amount of fiber that prohibits the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin. This means that it keeps you feeling full for longer and can reduce the rate at which you eat, therefore helping to control weight gain.
Fiddleheads are rich in the antioxidant known as beta-carotene. The presence of this antioxidant protects cells in the body from radical damages and prevents the formation of cancerous cells for some kinds of cancer. They can also help to fight everyday infections due to their healthy stock of vitamin C.
In a hundred-gram serving of fiddleheads, you have almost half of the daily intake for vitamin C. This vitamin serves as a booster for the immune system and keeps us safe from everyday illnesses.
They also contain a healthy amount of potassium and sodium. This combination is perfect for maintaining the perfect blood pressure. Fiddleheads are also a great source of manganese. The presence of manganese in the body can help prevent growth disabilities, general weakness, congenital disabilities, and impaired infertility. Manganese can also help to control blood sugar levels and the thyroid function in check.
Lastly, fiddleheads can help the body produce new red blood cells due to the presence of iron and copper. They also contain enormous amounts of vitamin A, about 70 percent of the daily intake. Vitamin A is great for healthy eyes and skin.
Culinary Uses of Fiddleheads
Fiddleheads need to be rinsed in water. This is done to remove all the debris and insects that might be stuck in it. Fiddleheads need to be cooked, even if it is slight because they can bear foodborne illnesses if eaten in excess.
Fiddleheads can be steamed or sauteed. Usually, they are boiled for six to eight minutes before they are added to dishes. They can be paired with lemon and butter. Fiddleheads do well in different kinds of sauces. To bring out the flavor of fiddleheads you can also cook them with morel mushrooms.
There is not much complexity when cooking fiddleheads. All you need to do is to cook them in a way that they will retain their flavor. Fiddleheads are mostly used as side dishes rather than being integrated into more complex dishes.
Fiddleheads can also serve as toppings on salads, pasta, or integrated into stews and soups.
Where Are Fiddleheads Grown? How to Procure Them?
Fiddleheads grow in the wild, in certain regions of the United States and Canada. You can also find them in the wet forests of Europe, Asia, and New Zealand.
During spring, foragers cut Fiddleheads and sell them at farmers’ markets. They also go by other names like spleenworts, fern tips, brackens. There is a debate on whether fiddleheads should be classified as a vegetable or not but since people eat it like a vegetable, the controversy has died down.
For people that suffer allergies or are intolerant towards other vegetables like kale or spinach, fiddleheads fit as the perfect replacement.
If you cannot forage, or do not know where you can get them from, you can find fiddleheads in some farmers’ markets or at the grocery stores in the wild produce section. You might also be able to get it online or buy it from a forager that you trust.
Why Are Fiddleheads Toxic?
The toxicity of fiddleheads could be due to an unidentified natural toxin in the vegetable. The symptoms of the toxin might not show until 12 hours after ingestion and they include nausea, vomiting, headaches, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. If you eat raw fiddleheads or consume improperly cooked ones, you might get food poisoning.
Facts You Don’t Know About Fiddleheads
- The regular consumption or inclusion of fiddleheads in one’s diet can help reduce the occurrence of lung cancer by at least 40 percent.
- As we age, fiddleheads can help prevent macular degeneration and night blindness if we have it included in our diet.