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Fiddleheads are one of a rapidly dwindling list of foods harvested or gathered in the wild, instead of produced by the agricultural industry. Fresh berries stare at us from the produce aisle all winter long now, and asparagus can be had at any time of year. Almost all of the "fresh" foods we eat are  produced on factory farms and shipped long distances to insure a constant supply. But fiddleheads are traditional New England food, still harvested from the wild as they have been for thousands of years, and therefore only available when nature allows.

Steamed Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads -- which are nothing more than the tender shoots of the ostrich fern (Matteuccia Struthiopteris) -- are gathered from low-lying riverbanks from Massachusetts to New Brunswick. There's no commercial farming of fiddleheads, but thousands of acres of wetland marshes are managed to support the annual harvest. The ostrich fern grows eventually to a span of around four feet.

Cut when they are one to two weeks old, the fiddlehead is a tightly coiled green shoot with a fuzzy protective mantle. Tender and flavorful, they have an earthy freshness that's unlike any farm-raised vegetable.

Low in carbs and calories, this is an ideal side dish for a diabetic or weight-loss regimen.  

Serves 4

1 lb fiddleheads, trimmed and washed
1/4 C water or stock
3 thin slices vidalia onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
[2 T butter - optional]
salt, hot sauce and balsamic vinegar, to taste

Bring the liquid to a boil in a wok or skillet. Toss the onions and fiddleheads for about a minute, until the fiddleheads are bright green but still crunchy. Add garlic, cover and steam for 3 minutes. [Add optional butter and toss until it melts.] Correct seasoning. 

Nutritional Estimate 4 Servings. Per serving: 46 Calories; 8 g Total Carbs; 0 g Dietary Fiber; 1 g Sugars; 4 g Fat; 0 mg Cholesterol; 0 mg Sodium; 0 g Protein. Weight Watchers: 1 points.

Note: The Nutrition Estimate does not include any added salt or optional ingredients. Add 52 calories per serving, 6g fat and 2 more WW points if you use the optional butter.


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My family is all from Maritime Canada; I deeply miss Fiddleheads in the spring, as they still prepare them in every possible way after we gathered them in the spring. Now that I live in Florida, I can only enjoy them when "home" in the spring.
While I know there are no commercial operations selling them, is there a substitute we can use here in Florida? I enjoy Poke Salat every spring after gathering quite a bit for a span of several weeks, but I am not sure if there is a compatible fern here that could substitute for Fiddleheads.
Any suggestions??

Hi Pat...thanks for the comment...unfortunately I don't know what might be available there...I did a little google-searching to see if I could find any alterntives but no luck...they are special...I grew up in Michigan and we got them from the north woods country...

I'm interested to know what else goes in the poke salad, if you know the names?

Thanks for your interest in!

I was looking for nutrition info for fiddle heads, vitamins,calories, etc. Can you help find a site or give info? thanks

What is the nutritional value of fiddle heads?

I too am interested in the nutritional value of fiddle heads?? I was thinking possibly vit B and folic acid??

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