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Snow Walker

Ostrich Fiddlehead Fern

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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.

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I would avoid all other types of ferns to be on the safe side seeing that so many carry carcinogens.

 

Most people think all Fiddle Head Ferns are the same, but that isn't true.  The one I talked about above was called the "Ostrich" Fiddlehead Fern (Matteucia struthiopteris).

 

The Fiddlehead Ferns that should be avoided are the "Cinnamon" Fiddlehead Fern (Osmunda Cinnamomea) and the "Interrupted" Fiddlehead Fern (Osmunda Claytonia).

 

Although the Cinnamon and Interrupted Fiddleheads are similar in apperance to the Ostrich Fiddleheads they are easy to tell apart.  In the pictures below you will see the bad guys (cinnamon and interrupted) have a wooly covering and the actual stem does NOT have a u/v groove on the inside of it like the Ostrich Fiddlehead does.  They will grow right next to each other so don't get careless!  The Cinnamon and Interrupted also have a stem that grows straighter then the Ostrich which grows up out and back in.

 

 

DISCLAIMER...BE RESPONSIBLE AND SAFE, DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH ON WILD EDIBLES!

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They weren't bitter at all to be honest.  They have a slight spinach flavor and are rather mild.  If you look around you might be able to find some recipes. 

 

I believe they are common in Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan and Alaska.

 

I'm not sure if you have them in my head though. ;)

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We have a lot of ferns in the deep woods here. They grow in damp areas with little sun and a lot on the north slopes but not always. Ive never looked into eating them or even identifying them. I transplanted a few to our yard on the north side of the house and they have only grew bigger over the years. Ill have to look them up and get some pictures.

 

Excellent information and post Snow Walker.  :thumbup:

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We have a lot of ferns in the deep woods here. They grow in damp areas with little sun and a lot on the north slopes but not always. Ive never looked into eating them or even identifying them. I transplanted a few to our yard on the north side of the house and they have only grew bigger over the years. Ill have to look them up and get some pictures.

 

Excellent information and post Snow Walker.  :thumbup:

Thank You

 

Alot of people will plant them in the yard once they find the right ones from what I here, but I have never seen it. 

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ive picked them for years. they are reminiscent of asparagus. I like to fry them in a pan with butter or bacon. you could gather 20 pounds of them in some areas ive seen them growing. I used to have a batch next to my house.

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