The Happy Forager

One of my all-time favourite wild vegetables is ready and waiting for the picking.

Chantelle Carter

One of my all-time favourite wild vegetables is ready and waiting for the picking. My mouth waters even at the thought of it gracing my dinner plate. If you have never tried fiddleheads I strongly suggest you do so immediately. Fiddleheads can substitute almost any vegetable called for in any recipe. When steamed they have a tendency to be bitter like rapini, when boiled they have a milder flavour comparable to spinach or broccoli, or when sauteed they tend to taste like asparagus. When individuals state “fiddlehead fern” they’re most likely speaking about the ostrich fern. Not all ferns are edible so caution must be used in identifying the right species. Ostrich fiddlehead stalks are smooth and naked of any scales or wool, but the coiled tops are full of brown papery flakes. The top side of the stalk (or, the part facing the center of the rosette) has a deep, U-shaped trough running its entire length this is an important feature to look for. You crop fiddlehead ferns by gently snapping them off when they’re at least 2 inches off the forest floor. You can continue to harvest as long as the fiddleheads are still tender and the leafy portion of the frond is not yet unfurled. Remember to only take a couple from each plant so the fern can still prosper. As soon as you bring your bounty home they should be stored in the fridge; or for best results and longer shelf life, in cold water. And once you see what health benefits this gourmet forest green has to offer, you will be gathering them in no time.

Health benefits of Fiddleheads:

1. Good vegetarian source of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, which is shown to enhance memory, enhance cholesterol levels and also help with weight loss.

2. Fiddleheads have shown to have as much as two times the antioxidant capacity of blueberries!

3. The mixture of effective antioxidants combined with the heavy dose of omega 3 fats helps you to regulate the body’s inflammation path.

4. Great source of weightbalancing fiber as half a cup of fiddleheads contain 7g of dietary fiber. The fiber in fiddleheads is ideal for anybody struggling with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) simply because they need to be perfectly cooked just before consuming. This will make fiddleheads calming and simply digested without any soreness, whilst curing the digestive tract.

5. Prevent cardiovascular disease as they include more than 30 per cent of the everyday requirement of niacin. Niacin boosts HDL cholesterol as well as aids in reducing LDL cholesterol to avoid arterial buildup as well as enhance circulation.

6. 120 per cent of recommended daily requirements of vitamin A which is additionally referred to as retinol. This is important for the performance of eyes, kidneys, bladder and also membranes. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help the body protect

against lung and oral cavity cancers.

7. Good Source of Macronutrients. In spite of being stuffed with water, a 100 g serving of raw fiddlehead ferns has 5.54 g of carbohydrate as well as 4.55 g of protein. This leads to 10% of an adults everyday protein requirement.

8. Fern shoots are a very good source of minerals and electrolytes, especially potassium, iron, manganese, and copper. 100 g of fresh shoots contains 370 mg or 7 per cent of daily required levels of potassium. Potassium is a heart friendly electrolyte, which helps reduce blood pressure and heart rate by countering sodium effects.

9. Their unique sweet taste comes from their richness in vitamin C. 100 g of fresh fronds contains 26.6 mg or 44 per cent of daily required levels. Vitamin C is a moderately potential water soluble antioxidant.

Together with flavonoid compound like carotenes, it helps

scavenge harmful free radicals, and offer protection from cancers, inflammation, and viral cough and cold.

I have tried fiddleheads many different ways and have found that my favourite so far has been when simply sauteed in butter and garlic. They can be eaten raw but it is suggested to do so, only in small amounts. This weekend I plan to make the following recipe for my family gathering on Mother’s Day. Fingers crossed it goes over well! So in closing, and as I dream for this coming weekend’s feast, I will leave you with the quote I try to live by. “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food” Hippocrates.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mamas out there and Happy Foraging!

Pearl Barley Risotto with Fiddleheads, Squash and Walnuts

50g Fiddleheads,

trimmed and blanched

50g Roasted

Butternut Squash

¼” dice

50g PearlBarley

cooked to “al dente”

15g Roasted Walnuts,

roughly chopped

1 tbsp Butter

2 tbsp Mascarpone


2 tbsp Parmesan


1 tsp Chives,

(finely sliced)

2 tbspVegetable Stock

¼ tsp Salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat.


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