The Ostrich Fiddlehead Fern
Earlier this spring I came home with a bunch of Ostrich Fern Fiddleheads. It's the time of year to see them popping up and I wanted to take advantage of it. Within an hour I had more then enough for the wife and I. They don't taste like "Chicken" lol, but do have a slight spinach flavor.
Alot of people are mistaken thinking that all Fiddlehead ferns are the same, but this isn't true. Hopefully, for those interested I can do a good job of explaining with the help of some pictures I took while collecting them.
The type that I picked yesterday are safe. They are called the Glossy form of Ostrich Fern Fiddlehead. (Matteucia Struthiopteris) They have some brown flaking on them, the stem has a deep u/v that runs the entire length which faces the center of the cluster. They don't grow straight up, instead they grow up, out and curl back in. River bottoms are ideal locations to find them as are along old forest roads. The clusters grow up out of a single brown colored bulb. Some might have three in a cluster while others might have as many as eight. You should NEVER pick them all from the cluster. For ex...If there are 3 in a cluster I will only take one and if there are eight I will only take 4. Be kind to the plant by doing this and it will pay you back next year. Also be VERY careful when picking because it is very easy to step on smaller ones you can't see. As far as cooking goes please google seeing that everyone has different ideas. We cleaned ours under cool water and went through the process of blanching them, then made them like spinach. The "Ostrich" name comes from what some people think the actual fern plume looks like...An Ostrich plume of feathers. In the photographs you can see this in the brown ferns from last year.
I will place some photos below showing the things I explained above and then post about the ones you want to avoid after that also followed by some photos.
Please note in the pictures below the deep u/v in the stem facing inward, the brown flaking scales, glossy green color/smooth texture, brownish bulb it grows out of and the way the stem grows up, then out and then curls back in again. These are the characteristics you want to look for.
Keep in mind though that I would not recommend eating them raw and that people could have allergies to them just as people do to things like peanuts and strawberries.
Here are the pictures of what we eat and found to be safe and after that I will post on what you should avoid.
DISCLAIMER...BE RESPONSIBLE AND SAFE, DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH ON WILD EDIBLES!
The books I gather most of my wild edible information from are also shown below.