and ready to…..” That is an old expression that my Dad would sing out to my Mom after he had showered and shaved and was ready to go out. If you want to know how it ends, send me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mom and Dad ready to go out-1960
I am dedicating this post to my Dad. I thought of him as I prepared the Fiddlehead Quiche shown below. My Dad was a large man in size and had an intimidation factor about him. His nickname was “Bull.” In reality, he was a big jokester and a softie inside.
Fiddlehead season in Maine is now just about over. That may depend on what part of the State you live in. For those of you that don’t know what they are, fiddleheads are the young coiled fronds of the ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris). Almost all ferns have fiddleheads, but the Maine fiddlehead is unique in two respects-the brown paper skin-like covering and the stalk looks like a mini-celery stalk. They are picked when the coiled frond is about one inch in size. Foragers consider these a delicacy.
Clusters of fiddleheads grow on the banks of rivers, streams and brooks. They arrive in late April and early May. They take time and effort to locate. People that harvest fiddleheads and offer you some will not usually tell you of their secret location and, it’s just downright rude to ask. Buying them at the market @ $5 p/# is not an option for me. I prefer mine fresh from a known forager.
If you are going out to pick, you may need landowner permission before harvesting. Don’t attempt this on your own, especially if you are a newbie to Maine culture. Go with a Mainer that knows what they are doing.
Ready for foraging
Under no circumstances should fiddleheads be consumed raw.
Fiddleheads contain fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids. If purchased at the store, they should be fairly clean. If you have picked by hand, you will need to clean for use. Place in a colander and spray with cold water. Soak a little in a bowl of water to remove any brown paper skin. Rinse again and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
cleaned fiddleheads in colander
There are two cooking methods – boiling and steaming. Do not stir-fry, sauté or microwave. You must steam or boil prior to using in stir-fry or sauté.
Fiddleheads can be frozen for future use. Clean well, blanch & dry.
Cleaning and freezing process
Here is a Fiddlehead Quiche recipe adapted from the North Woods Sporting Journal, 2005
1- 9-inch unbaked pie shell
½ pound fiddleheads
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup sour cream
½ small onion chopped finely
Salt & Pepper to taste
Option: Bacon – fry some up crisp & chop; add in mushrooms-chopped and sautéed in the bacon grease. Also added some baby red tomato for color-but not really necessary-might make it too liquidy.
Preheat oven to 425°-for briefly baking pie shell-Don’t forget to reduce temp
Prepare the unbaked pie shell by brushing with a small amount of the beaten eggs. Pierce bottom and sides. Bake the shell for 10 minutes and cool. Reduce oven to 350°
Fry up the bacon and save some of the grease in the bottom of the skillet. Cook the fiddleheads in the same skillet till crisp. Remove from pan. Add a little more grease, if needed and fry up the chopped onion and mushrooms, if using.
Bacon, onions & shrooms
Arrange the fiddleheads, cheese and other optional ingredients in bottom of the cooled pie crust.
Whisk the eggs with remaining ingredients until well blended.
Pour over the filled pie crust, sprinkle with cheese.
Bake for approximately 45 minutes.
Let stand for 5-10 minutes before slicing.