Ah, fiddlesticks

The perfect fiddlehead ready for harvest!

The perfect fiddlehead ready for harvest!

Spring is here and the running to keep up is set at a pace I’m not sure I can keep up with! The fiddleheads are up and gone and now we’re into stinging nettles. The spring has been really late in coming this year but suddenly it is all go. Last night as I came in the house I noticed that the cherry tree is suddenly in blossom–I’m sure it wasn’t this morning!

I managed to harvest a good couple of loads of fiddleheads. Usually I’ve been able to do it over a few days up to a week or so, but this year they seem to have come and gone in an instant. So, one good harvest was all I got. Still, they are a welcome addition to the menu and to the harvesting process. I love anything I don’t have to tend all year long or think about replanting, fertilizing, watering, etc! The fiddleheads are delicious. Cook them as you would asparagus: steam or lightly fry in olive oil or butter. They are much like asparagus in flavour but much more delicate in texture. There is no trace of the fibrousness of asparagus. If you have never tried them before, I encourage you to try them. Of all the wild harvested items I gather, these are by far the most anticipated each year.

Anthropologists have done studies that look at time, and discovered that hunter-gathering groups actually had much more time on their hands than agriculturalist groups. Instinctively, it is difficult to imagine. One would think that being in control of our food sources would free up some time. Now that I’m a serious food provisionist, I now know first hand why it doesn’t! It is so much easier to simply be observant, and harvest as and when nature provides, than to do all the planning, weeding, seed starting, transplanting, compost making, and so on that has to be done in order to grow things to an artificial schedule.

Fiddleheads unfurling so quickly I could practially perceive it while taking the photo!

A fiddlehead unfurls so quickly I could practically perceive it while taking the photo!


Filed under Agriforestry, Gathering from the wild, Heritage foods, Hunting, personal food sovereignty

15 responses to “Ah, fiddlesticks

  1. Fiddleheads (ostrich ferns) are on my list of things to plant next year. I’m right there with you on the perennials and foraging concepts. We put in a lot of perennials this year, and now have to be patient while they get enough growth under their belts to produce for us a few years on. I’m glad to hear you praise fiddleheads. I’ve known they were edible for years, but I never heard anyone rave about them ’til now. Sounds like something I’d enjoy, and I look forward to it.

    • Wow, I can’t believe you have to plant them! Are you not anywhere near where they grow wild? And yes, they are scrumptious. So much so I can’t believe they are not on the menu of EVERY top restaurant (or any restaurant that considers itself ‘haut’). For all the baby this and that, nothing is as good as fresh young fiddlehead ferns.

      • We have a few ferns around, but they aren’t the kind that produce fiddleheads. At least I’ve never seen them. We have maidenhair ferns that grow wild in our general area, and some few ferns on our property. But no fiddleheads. We do have some good candidate areas for them – moist and dappled-shady. It’s good to leave a few things on the to do list for next year. Know what I mean?

  2. Do you have to worry about over-foraging as happens in our area, or is the population so low that it isn’t a problem. I cringe everytime I see a wildcrafting class offered in Portland.

    It hits us in the pocketbook when we have order to fill for nettles, mushrooms etc., only to find that a “property enjoyer”/trespasser has helped themselves to the entire patch. The sad thing is that most do not leave much behind for future spore/seed release.

    I get very tired of sharing my bounty with townsfolk who think everything outside the city limits is fair game – including the game!

    • We don’t have the population to have those problems you are highlighting, thankfully. I think I am the only person collecting fiddleheads in the valley. Nobody else that I’ve spoken with has ever done it or know of anyone doing it. Again, a plus for the idea of living so remotely! There are more problems with the mushrooms here in that there are lots of folks harvesting them. In fact, the valley used to have quite the thriving mushroom economy but the past few years has seen a major decline in mushroom prices. But the pickers do complain about ‘outsiders’ (those not from the valley who travel the province–or the world as the case may be–picking) don’t take care and harvest so carelessly that they aren’t leaving the spores.

  3. ooo. Fiddleheads. I’ve always wanted to try! And as for the stinging nettle….have you tried making pesto out of it yet? Yum.

  4. Mitch

    Hey Kristeva

    Its me again!!

    Nice Spring seems to be a good time for everything!!

    I just got some 52 carrots planted today And its freezing cold here right now

    How are those chickens of yours?
    And how are the baby Cornish cross Chicks ?

    Hope things are going well for you
    We finaly are off Fire danger warnings so Now we can Burn Off any dried grass and collect those darn Tree Branches From the Tornado that came a week ago


  5. Sue

    When we garden, we are fighting nature…so its much tougher. We want neat orderly (easy to harvest) rows, and open dirt between those rows. Nature doesn’t work that way…always trying to fill in…so you see the battle we wage.
    Have a great weekend

  6. Super cool. I LOVE the fiddleheads. Like HDR mentioned, there are so many things out there to pick and prepare that people just don’t bother with! Cool post. Sorry I haven’t been able to check in as much with getting ready for the move!

  7. I agree with matron of husbandry on the trespassing issue. My mother has a large woods (in Michigan) and every year she has to try to shoo people out of the woods even right across the street from her house. Mostly morel hunters. They are bold. She will ask them to leave and often they just drive around the block and start in again at the other end of the property. Some people have no concept of private property even when it is posted.
    She also gets a lot of garbage dumpers and pet abandonments.

  8. LittleFfarm Dairy

    Darn, I’ve never seen them listed as edible forage here; although I’m not sure the varieties here in the UK actually are edible.

    Regardless, this year they’re all out & doubtless stringy beyond belief. So we’ll enjoy a nettlesome bounty instead – we’ve certainly got plenty of those….!

    • They might not be listed as edible yet still be edible. According to the UK, Saskatoon berries are inedible yet we eat them all the time here and in Saskatchewan, people are centering fine food businesses around them. So, you might want to find someone who knows (a botanist?) about ferns and get yours identified. They are well worth eating!

  9. LittleFfarm Dairy

    Our farrier is ‘into’ ferns & he did mention that we have some rarities here. I’ll have to collar him next time he’s over to pedicure the ponies’ feet – & who knows, next year we too might get to join in the feast?!

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