Fiddleheads n Bows

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Once a year, for a very short time Mother Nature allows those knowledgeable anglers wise in the ways of wandering streams to savour a scrumptious side dish to compliment that just landed (for lunch), Rainbow Trout.

I have picked a hat-full just this week while walking back from a favourite area known to hold vocal gobblers.

Normally just after opening week of trout and before Mother’s Day an observant harvester has their best opportunity to fill a small pail or even your hat (if it has no holes) with tasty ferns. Ferns? Yes this fern is full of springtime flavour if you know how to prepare it.


 Fiddleheads are bright green succulent shoots that spring up along the bank of a flowing stream. Spread around or tucked in among massive willow trees along the rivers edge. Often sprouting on southern partially sun-filled and shaded flats is where you will discover the most abundant tender fiddleheads.

Now I have seen fiddleheads for sale in local markets during its short harvest season in early May, but the fun of picking them sure beats buying anyday.

When picking fiddleheads, three tops per plant is the recommended harvest. Each plants produces seven tops that turn into ferns and over-picking will kill the plant .

 It doesn’t take long to pick more than enough sprouts to satisfy your requirements for super. Just remember to leave some for next years harvest.

Plucking them just where the stalk starts to form the tightly wound fern will ensure their tenderness. Of course the most important part is to meticulously clean them before cooking. Shaking your freshly gathered greens in a closed a paper bag or hand covered hat will separate the brown chafe from the tightly spiralled heads.

Rinsing your just picked stash under clean cold flowing water will complete the job of removing any grit, twigs or bugs. It’s suggested you do this two to three times for best results.

No One like unknown tidbits of nature stuck in their teeth.

Get a pot of boiling salted water ready big enough to submerge your fiddleheads and continue to boil for about eight – ten minutes. Once tender salt and add butter to your taste. Enjoy your lunch with that grilled trout your caught or bought and of course your favourite beverage.

The Federal Government of Health recommends they NOT be eaten raw but adequately cooked before consumption. Fiddleheads can also be blanched and stored frozen should you want to enjoy some with your venison in the fall.  The cooking time recommended by health authorities is ten minutes if boiled and twenty if steamed. The cooking method recommended by gourmets is to spread a thin layer in a steam basket and steam lightly, just until tender crisp. 

Grab your pole and get out there with your kids or spouse hunting for some succulent and tasty fiddleheads n bows.                                                                                     

About Peter Wood 1194 Articles
As an avid lifelong angler and hunter, Peter’s outdoor knowledge and experiences keep expanding through his hundreds of hours of hunting and fishing podcast interviews with like minded experts. He has received numerous national writing awards. With thousands of outdoor pictures on Ripple Outdoors and many full-length articles with outdoor magazine and video clips you might say that he not only enjoys his outdoor lifestyle, but he’s quite the fanatic! In 2015 he earned fifth overall on the King of the Wood Contest hosted by Canada In The Rough team, pretty good for a baby boomer deer hunter. His buck was also one of the top bucks taken that season. Through Peter’s deer hunting seminars or by attending outdoor trade shows, like the Toronto Sportsmen Show and The SWOC Big Buck Show, he has connected with thousands of like minded people that love hunting and fishing. As a volunteer or member of local and national outdoor groups like QDMA, SWOC, Outdoor Writers of Canada, Archery Trade Show Association he continues to learn and hone his craft. Read his many articles, listen to his podcasts and rifle through thousands of photos on Ripple Outdoors. Discover Peter’s latest posts about outdoor gear, destinations, how to articles and interviews and you’ll be a better angler and hunter for the experience.

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