Fiddleheads – A Wild Treasure

Every spring, around Mother’s Day, our whole family treks off into the woods for “Fiddleheads”.

May 26, 2011 | | Blogs

Every spring, around Mother’s Day, my children, husband and my parents all trek off into the woods for “Fiddleheads”. It is a family tradition and I LOVE it!

Fiddleheads are called as such because they resemble the end of a fiddle. In fact, they are actually the tender unravelled stem and leaves of a baby fern. We eat the Ostrich fern. It can be found in Ontario in low lying wet areas near (or in) forests and tastes like a cross between asparagus and snap peas. Fiddleheads will not replenish themselves if you harvest the whole plant so make sure you leave some behind to grow for next year!

DO NOT confuse them with the toxic Braken fern! If you find something that you think is a fiddlehead but it is greyish green in colour and is growing in a field or rocky area stay away! Alternatively, if you don’t feel comfortable picking them yourself, you can occasionally find them in the grocery store for a brief time each spring (although you’ll pay an arm and a leg).

Fiddleheads get me excited because they are straight from nature, delicious and are highly nutritious. They provide tons of vitamin A, niacin, some vitamin C; the minerals potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron, and the trace minerals manganese, zinc, and copper. Best of all they taste wonderful with butter, fresh lemon juice, and salt!!

Because they have a paper brown covering it must be removed by scraping it off with a small knife. It goes a lot faster when you work together, as a family or group.

This time together is a great time for my parents to teach their grandchildren the lost art of collecting local edibles and preserving for the future.

This time together is a great time for my parents to teach their grandchildren the lost art of collecting local edibles and preserving for the future.

Rinsing Fiddleheads

After the paper husks are removed we rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse them and then plop them in a sink of ice cold water to soak overnight.

Blanching Fiddle Heads

In the morning we put a pot of water on the stove to boil and blanch in batches for 2 minutes

We lay them out on a tea towel and let cool.  Once they are cooled we divide into serving sizes, place in small freezer bags and plop them in the freezer.  We will now have gorgeous greens to enjoy on a cold winter night.

You can’t get any more LOCAL than that!

About the Author More by Cathy Bray



  1. Hi, I really enjoyed your article. We are from Nepal, we grew up picking fiddleheads in spring. I was thinking to take my kids to pick them up. Do you know they are near Toronto anywhere?
    We are new to Toronto?

    sujata from Toronto on May 19, 2016 at 10:08 pm | Reply

  2. Good morning,

    I truly enjoyed your article. I came across it in my desperate search to find fiddleheads this time of year. Do you know anyone. Locally who may have some available?

    Thank you,

    Julie Cybulski

    julie cybulski from Cambridge on Nov 24, 2015 at 7:51 am | Reply

    • Sorry no idea where to find them this time of year.

      Valerie on Nov 24, 2015 at 8:08 am | Reply

    • Hi Julie!

      I am the author of this blog post. 🙂 You won’t be able to find fiddleheads this time of year, however, in the spring (usually around Mother’s Day) you will be able to find them in the grocery stores. The window of opportunity is very small, so if you see them get them quick! Another option is to pick them. They can be tricky to find, but if you look for wooded areas next to a river or wetlands I’m sure you will find them. Please do research first to make sure that you are picking the right plant. Good Luck!

      Cathy Bray
      Heritage Hollow

      Cathy Bray from Erin on Dec 2, 2015 at 1:30 pm | Reply

  3. I really enjoyed your article on the fiddleheads. I can remember picking them occasionally when I was a child, but never as many as you have on the table, wow! You are right, you can’t get any more local than that.

    Heather Porrill from Bay Tree, Alberta, Canada on May 27, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Reply

    • Hi Heather!! Thank you for visiting and reading my article!

      Cathy from Erin, Ontario, Canada on Jun 6, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Reply

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