Fiddleheads are the young, tightly curled edible shoots of the ostrich fern. This unique green vegetable gets its name because it resembles the spiral end of a fiddle (a.k.a. a violin). They are available for only a short time in early spring as they are harvested when they are just a few inches off the ground and still tender. It has a delicate flavour, which could be compared to asparagus mixed with green beans, and a slightly chewy texture. They are grown commercially in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
How to Select and Store Fiddleheads
Choose small, firm, brightly coloured fiddleheads. Avoid fiddleheads that are soft, uncurling or loose and have turned brown or are yellowing.
Store unwashed (dry) fiddleheads in a sealable plastic bag and remove the air or wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for no more than 3 days. If you have access to a vacuum sealer, they will last for up to 3 weeks.
To Freeze Fiddleheads
Since fiddleheads are only in season for a short period of time, many people choose to freeze them for later use.
To prepare fiddleheads for the freezer, remove as much of the brown paper husk as possible and wash thoroughly. Boil for two minutes, then discard the cooking water. Plunge into ice cold water to stop the cooking process, then drain and allow to cool completely. Pack in plastic freezer bags with as much air removed as possible and store up to 1 year. Be sure to fully cook the fiddleheads after thawing.