|Fiddleheads as they grow once the spring waters recede from streams and rivers|
Yet my mental pictures of those long ago "pickings" show emply chemical barrels along the stream!
We called the brown sheath the brac and it was this that caught the dirt, no one thought of it as a health hazard.
Fiddleheads were washed once, plunked in a pot and cook until soft (and somewhat gray). There would be several inches of brown scum up the side of your pot!! One would carefully ladel out the fiddleheads and serve with butter, (homemade of course), and vinegar. At one home in our neigbourhood the fiddleheads were cooked even longer and then mashed on the plate with a fork.
It was not until I had “lived away” and returned to Carleton County in the 1970′s that I realized fiddleheads could be eaten tendercrisp – heaven!
There were years when cleaning fiddleheads was a spring pastime; in a pillowcase, in the clothesdryer, hosed down between two screens – removing the brown covering seemed next to impossible. My friend Graydon Shaw had such a system.
This Google image search on the right shows a automated Fiddlehead Cleaner devised in Maine.
In 1985 I moved to Saint John and have only harvested fiddleheads a few times. However I await each spring’s growth with anticipation. Fiddleheads, salmon, potatoes = a feast.
NOW FOR THE KICKER! Because of contaminants from the waters;
Fiddleheads must be boiled for at least a minute to kill the germs.
Should you wish to saute, make soup, add to salads, stir fries etc the fiddlehead still requires this preboil; and I advise you to shock them with an ice water rinse to preserve the bright green colour.
Now I must run, there are some left over fiddleheads in my fridge and I have not yet had breakfast. I enjoy them cold ; and they would be so much better if I had some of my brother, Bruce Vail’s, cornmeal crusted, fried, Carleton County trout!!
Feel free to share your fiddlehead memories, comments or questions. Readers loved, Comments adored!