Finding and cooking fiddleheads with my parents

A story by Brian J. Theriault from 2018

Edmond Theriault hunting fiddleheads, 2012
Courtesy of Brian J. Theriault

My 95-year-old father, Edmond Theriault, and I pick fiddle heads in the spring. They are one of the first fresh things we eat. They grow along streams and their locations are usually family secrets. We figure that Dad picked about 100 pounds average a year for about 80 years, which is about 8,000 pounds, so far. He still picks them when he gets the chance.

My mother and father know a lot about the old ways. My mother knows how cook and store fiddleheads so we can enjoy them year-round. Here are her recipes:

Cooking Fiddleheads
By Joan Theriault
Prepare: Clean fiddleheads in cold water rinse till water stays clean. Place in colander and drain.
How to cook fiddleheads: Fiddleheads that are clean and well drained will be place in boiling water for about two min. then drain.
In a pot of boil chicken season broth, you will drop fiddleheads in broth and cook for about ten to fifteen min., until they are tender. Discard broth and enjoy. With butter if desire.

Another way:
1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Cook fiddleheads in boiling water until tender, seven to ten min., and then drain water.
2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium to high heat. Stir in the prepared fiddleheads, garlic and the salt and pepper will be added. Enjoy

Blanching: You must clean fiddlehead thoroughly before blanching.
1. Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil over high heat. You can cover the pot with a lid to hasten the boiling process.
2. Drop fiddleheads in the boiling water and wait for the water to a boil. Boil them for two min.
3. Drain the fiddleheads in a colander, and then transfer to the pan of ice water. Let them soak in the ice water for one min. or so.
4. Transfer the fiddleheads using a slotted spoon to a clean kitchen towel. Pat fiddleheads down until they are dry. Transfer them to freezer- safe containers or bags and freeze.

When you defrost fiddleheads, they still need to be completely cooked before eating. Boil for at least ten minutes, as blanching alone is not sufficient.

Courtesy of Brian J. Theriault

Edmond Theriault hunting fiddleheads, 2012
Courtesy of Brian J. Theriault

Fiddleheads growing in the wild.

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