When you grow up in Maine one of the many seasonal delicacies that you look forward to every year are fiddleheads.
What the Heck is a Fiddlehead?
Glad you asked! Maine fiddleheads come from Ostrich Ferns. They are the furled fronds of ferns before they’ve reached full maturity. The name “fiddlehead” was chosen due to their scroll-like curl shape that so closely resembles that of a fiddle’s scrollwork where the strings tuning pegs are located.
Another very visually-based name for fiddleheads is crozier, derived from the shape of the top of a bishop’s staff.
When it comes to taste, they’ve been compared to other green vegetables like asparagus, brocolli and even fresh grass has been an associated description. We find the flavor of fiddleheads to be distinctivly it’s own, unique, and as a “Maine thing” something you should defintely try if you get the chance.
When Are Fiddleheads Available?
These lare a spring delicacy that locals forage for between the end of April through early June (if you’re lucky).
Where Can I Get Fiddleheads?
Farmers markets and small grocers are a great place to check! In Portland, Rosemont Market has had them recently and so has Bow Street Market in Freeport. “Wild Foraged” is not an uncommon sign to see accompanying them.
How to Cook Fiddleheads (and Other Stories) with the Guides of Maine Foodie Tours
A few of our guides have gotten into the seasonal cooking spirit and shared some quick ideas on how to cook fiddleheads.
BROILED “Chopped” with Stephanie and Bethany
Some of our guides have a professional interest in the culinary arts as chefs and cooking instructors. Stephanie and Bethany are two of those, and in their free time decided to collaborate for a casual evening meal. One brought the fiddleheads, and the other brought lemons and almonds. They created a citrus and thyme vinagrette that they tossed the almonds and fiddleheads in and then broiled them in the oven for a few minutes. Here’s a pic of the final results, including their side dishes.
STEAMED A Personal Favorite
Stephanie, one of our full-fledged Mainers, sees fiddleheads as one of the true signs that spring has arrived. She finds it kind of funny that even for those folks who have tried them and aren’t fans find them “so darn cute, they want to like them!” Her favorite way to serve them is steamed, tossed with Kate’s butter, fresh grated lemon zest, fresh chopped parsley, grated parmesan cheese and finished with a little bit of sea salt and black pepper.
BOIILED: It’s a Family Tradition
Grant has been eating fiddleheads with his family for years, the same tried and true recipe. They boil them, slather them in butter and add a little salt.
BRAISED AND SAUTED Because, Bacon Makes Everything Better
Chris R, likes to first braise his fiddleheads, then get a saute going with garlic and butter.
FRESHLY FORAGED With a Side of Hot Dogs
Robin moved to Maine while in college. Coming from CT, by way of NYC, and she had never even heard of fiddleheads before. Then, one spring afternoon, she went on a date with a guy who was in a foraging class (also something she’d never heard of). They spent the day fishing but didn’t manage to catch a single fish. Their foraging expedition was much more successful, hauling a tidy bunch of fiddleheads, which they took home to clean, cook (with butter, salt, pepper and vinegar), and ate them carefully paired with the only other food item in the house, since they didn’t catch any fish, hot dogs.
There’s really no one way to cook fiddleheads and we always recommend you experiment!
Know of a farmers market or grocer with fiddleheads right now? Have a recipe you use that’s especially delicious? Please share in the comments!