General Discussion

Fiddleheads: dangers? and preparation?


General Discussion 6

Fiddleheads: dangers? and preparation?

Lew P. | Jun 2, 2003 03:52 PM

I start a new thread on fiddleheads bec. this is really a different question than the one raised below. My wife and I are summer residents of New Hampshire, and after arriving this weekend we bought fiddleheads at the Lebanon food coop as we did last year. But this time there was a strong message of warning: to get rid of a toxin in fiddleheads the FDA urges ten minutes of boiling, preferably with several changes of water, before sauteing these ferns or preparing them in any other way. A warning like that does make you stop and think. I looked at two cookbooks -- Julian Armstrong's on Quebec cooking and Evan & Judith Jones on New England's -- and both call for six or seven minutes of boiling as an initial step, but neither says anything about poisoning! (The Joneses just say they find the ferns too chewy after a couple of minutes of steaming.) I believe that as a child in New England I was warned about fiddleheads, like many mushrooms, being poisonous. Bravely, we went ahead and bought them and, following the cookbooks, boiled them seven minutes as a first step. They were delicious in butter, lemon, and garlic. But I thought they had lost some of the asparaguslike flavor I remembered from last year. So the question is: is there really reason to be cautious about a toxin in fiddleheads?

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