It’s fiddlehead fern (ostrich fern) season in Maine and I intend to enjoy it. I sort of missed the whole Maple syrup season due to lack of equipment, but the fiddlehead fern thing is different. There’s no need for equipment besides having a stove top. And we have one of them. The only other thing we need are fiddlehead ferns. We have them too.
Steve sent me a text message this morning to tell me that “it’s time.” Time to go outside and forage for fiddleheads. Right before I got the message, Laura and I just happened to be in the back woods, looking at ferns. We found a whole bunch, but they were maroon in color and I was going to come inside to see if they were fiddleheads. Unfortunately, they aren’t the type of ferns we can eat. I’m not sure what they are, but after watching the video, I’m certain I won’t be putting the maroon ones in my mouth.
How to Identify Fiddleheads
After I went back and forth with Steve for a while, I headed outside to check around for the proper ferns. I checked near the stream and didn’t find any. After that, I thought it would be a good idea to check the other side of the property, where it’s fairly wet. Bingo. Tons of ferns all over the place. Here’s what I found.
The pictures above show ferns that are not yet ready to pick. I’m willing to say that in a few days, we’ll be good to go.
So, how can you identify fiddlehead ferns anyway? Well, the University of Maine tells us this:
There are three ways to identify ostrich fern fiddleheads in the spring:
1. There is a deep, “U”-shaped groove on the inside of the smooth stem.
2. There are thin, brown, paper-like scales covering the newly emerging fiddleheads. The scales fall off as the fiddlehead grows and elongates.
3. The fertile, spore-bearing frond is distinctive in shape, and also has a groove on the inside of the stem. When present during harvest time, the previous year’s fertile frond will be dark brown in color. Not all ostrich fern crowns will have fertile fronds.
According to the above, I’m somewhat certain that what we’ve got here are ostrich fern fiddleheads, although I’d kind of like someone else to eat them first, just to be sure.
As these grow a bit older, I’ll harvest some of them and take more pictures. I’ll also let you know what happens when we eat them. Or I won’t. Hmmm…