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Fiddlehead Ferns: Everything You Wanted to Know About This Local Vermont Delicacy

03/17/2015 01:21PM ● By Ryan Frisch

It won’t be long before you can find fiddleheads in the woods and in some stores. They are a fleeting delicacy so be prepared with information ahead of time—where to forage and how to properly harvest them in a sustainable way.

Dorothy Read of the Readmore Bed and Breakfast Inn says that if someone doesn’t like fiddleheads, it’s because they haven’t cooked them right. So enjoy her special recipe that's served as a seasonal specialty at the Readmore Bed and Breakfast Inn and check out the video below for more preparation tips!

New England Fiddleheads and Poached Eggs

  • 1 lb. fresh fiddlehead ferns, tightly closed
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup sliced local spring mushrooms or shitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 lb. fresh, new asparagus
  • Salt and pepper and a few grates of nutmeg to taste
  • A nice squeeze of lemon juice

      When we find the fiddleheads, we know that spring is here! If you are also lucky enough to find some local mushrooms at your farm stand or co-op, and some new shoots of asparagus, even better!

But they can be a little tricky. Fiddlehead ferns need to be scrubbed of their brown papery coating, soaked and rinsed well, soaked again, and blanched before cooking or they will be bitter. Once prepared, melt the butter and add the olive oil and, tasting often, do a quick saute for best results. After a few minutes, add the mushrooms and continue cooking, throwing in the tender asparagus at the last.

Once they are to your liking, sprinkle with salt and pepper and nutmeg and drizzle with the lemon juice to taste. You can doll them up with Hollandaise if you like, but these are a native delicacy and I think best served so that their great flavor shines through. Note: If you over cook them, they will lose a lot of flavor, so crisp/tender is the word.

Serve with poached eggs and enjoy this seasonal classic. Full more tips and the article at

The Proper Way to Harvest & Prepare Fiddleheads from University of Maine Cooperative Extension

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