When Star Trek: The Next Generation was launched on the small screen in 1988, one of the more notable episodes was titled, “Too Short a Season.” For the gourmand who waits an entire year for the fiddlehead fern to unfurl its curl, that title aptly describes the rapid arrival and departure of this delectable treat. Measured in weeks rather than months, the fiddlehead’s turn on nature’s vast stage seems all too brief.
What does it do?
This diminutive vegetable packs more nutrition than some veggies thrice its size. Low in sodium but rich in potassium, fiddleheads are the right choice for people adhering to a low salt diet. A source of dietary fiber, this forage food can keep the intestines in sound working condition. Also offering anti-oxidants and the omega-3 and omego-6 fatty acids, the fiddlehead provides your spring salad with health-bestowing ingredients. One ounce of fiddleheads dishes up over one gram of protein while adding a mere 10 calories to your meal. Iron, calcium and vitamins A and C round out the list of goodies delivered by this tasty spring treat.
About the herb
Named after the curled ornamentation—called a scroll—gracing the end of certain stringed instruments like the violin, the fiddlehead is found in abundance across much of North America upon spring’s arrival. The ostrich variety is the fern most commonly eaten, and it belongs to a unique flowerless plant species.
Woodlands burst forth with all manner of green wonders each spring, the fiddlehead fern being in that number. If you forage for some of your table treats, make sure to correctly identify the fiddlehead from inedible species of fern. To maximize the nutritional spectrum of your harvest, take the stalk as well as the fiddlehead-looking tops. Thoroughly wash your fiddleheads and cook before serving. Note: do not eat the mature fronds of the fiddlehead once this fern has matured.