a little green for st. patrick’s day: fiddlehead ferns

I’ll admit it, when something is exclusive, I’m intrigued. When something is limited edition, you bet I want it. So when I learned of the elusive fiddlehead fern with its super short season, I knew I had to have them. The fiddlehead fern is actually the unfurled frond of the Ostrich Fern. They’re in limited supply for about three weeks in late April/early May. If you do find some, here’s a great way cook them up that really showcases their flavor:

First, remove any bits of the papery husk still attached to the fronds. Then — if you’re a nervous eater — you’ll want to boil or steam the heck out of them to avoid the slight chance of a GI problem that some health officials have worried people about. If you’re like me, you’ll risk the stomach upset for a flavorful, lightly cooked fiddlehead that tastes of spring. Simply toss them in a skillet with some butter, a drizzle of olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Delicious. — Erica P.

From our partners

do they taste like cooked kale or dandelion greens, I wonder? If so some slivers of bacon and a little bacon grease (truly a smidge) would make this so down home and southern :)

Megan b.

I’ve always heard the asparagus comparison with these, but the only time I’ve ever had them they were *incredibly* bitter. Barely edible. Perhaps they were too late in the season, I recall it being right around Summer solstice when I ate them.

Sarah L.

I’ve wanted to try these ever since I read, “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.” Never had any luck finding them in stores in the Midwest but will try again this week. They look great!

My mom used to make these for us when we were kids! I don’t remember the exact taste, but I remember really liking them.

Mary T

Sarah L, when we lived in Cincinnati I remember having these at Boca. I don’t really remember what they tasted like, but they weren’t bitter. They were part of a salad.


I’m a little spoiled, fiddleheads are amazing and I grew up in a growing area (not far from the “fiddlehead capital of the world”)

@Megan B, the reason they were bitter is you have to boil them twice, and in fresh water each time.

they taste brussel sprouts.


Must, must cook thoroughly! I agree that will probably kill the flavor and crispness, but I can’t tell you how hideous the agony of the case of food poisoning I gave myself when I made these a few years ago. (I cleaned, blanched, then sauteed a batch that I picked up at the usually reliable Whole Foods.) Not sure I’ll ever sample them again, it was so bad.

I had these at a banquet catered at a hotel, they tasted a lot like asparagus. I would say they are less intense and little milder than asparagus.

Sarah L.

Mary, I need to get out more : )

Looks barely edible, but l would defo try it. lol. xx

Megan b.

Thanks, Khrystina. I’ll be sure to pass that tip along to the restaurant that prepared them that way!!!