Brachen Fern Fiddleheads

Discussion in 'Plant and Tree Identification' started by moonwolf, Feb 17, 2005.

  1. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,576
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    An back issue of Countryside magazine had an article on edible fiddlehead ferns, and the stages with species that are commonly eaten, including Brachen Ferns.

    Has anyone tried these? Are they truly edible? IF so, How do you prepare them for eating and what stage do you pick them?
     
  2. bare

    bare Head Muderator

    Messages:
    1,857
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    I used to collect and enjoy Bracken fiddle heads, until someone told me that they were poisonous or harmful in some way. I never did look into the matter but I tend to doubt it now, since I ate an awful lot of them over the years and never suffered any ill effects.

    They are easy to harvest, just pop off the little curleycue end and you can use them lots of ways, my favorite being sautee'd in butter, with mushrooms. They are tasty too, just tossed raw in a salad.
     

  3. ajaxlucy

    ajaxlucy Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,799
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2004
    Location:
    Indiana
    I have also read that they contain a compound that is supposed to make them risky, but I know I've eaten lots of it. Bracken fern (warabi) is a delicacy in Japan and my mother was delighted to find it growing wild in West Virginia. Every year, she goes out with a Japanese friend and picks lots of it (with the blessing of the local landowner). We eat it with rice and soy sauce, of course.
     
  4. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

    Messages:
    28,248
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    SE Missouri
    You have to eat really massive amts for it to be toxic. I like it boiled or steamed till just tender and served with butter and salt. Think 'asparagus' . BTW, asparagus can be toxic if eaten in large enough quantities. Enjoy the fiddleheads, they are quite tasty!
     
  5. bare

    bare Head Muderator

    Messages:
    1,857
    Joined:
    May 9, 2002
    When I was typing my answer out, one of my kids said, "What do you mean no ill effects...look at all that hair on your back!". :eek:

    Just be forewarned.
     
  6. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,576
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    :haha: :haha: :haha:

    Thanks all for your replies. I'm going to give some of these fiddleheads a try come this spring.
     
  7. fordson major

    fordson major construction and Garden b Supporter

    Messages:
    7,380
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2003
    Location:
    east ont canada
    gee bare maybe rubbed on the scalp it would grow hair! cure for pattern baldness!! can't try it myself afflicted with hippie hair!! :haha: :haha:
     
  8. woodenfires

    woodenfires Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    111
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    Location:
    The Moon
    Fiddleheads are delicious! They are also a big part of my income but only are available for a few short weeks of the year, from may 15th in places to the middle of june in others. The ones along the brooks are fine to eat but do not freeze well, the ones along rivers and creeks freeze best, I do about 100 bags every year for my own use but pick thousands of pounds for sale, I usually get about $1.50 a lb but in stores they sell for anywhere from $3.00 to $10.00 a lb. Some people are doing it as a big business and flying them to all parts of the planet for big cash. I also pickle them and this seems to be catching on as a small bottle sells for a few dollars, people really love them. Without fiddleheads I would lose my favorite job of picking them and thousands of dollars in income. I made a homemade cleaner that takes most of the work out of cleaning them, big help when you do hundreds of lbs at a time.
     
  9. opus

    opus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    252
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2004
    Location:
    Montana
    You MUST be kidding me! Thats all we have here is bracken fern, miserable stuff, I KNEW I would get rich someday!!! Cant wait now!
     
  10. MaineFarmMom

    MaineFarmMom Columnist, Feature Writer

    Messages:
    4,568
    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2002
    Location:
    Maine
  11. jackie c

    jackie c Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    561
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2004
    Location:
    ontario

    Have you got plans for that homemade cleaner that you would care to share??
    Thankx :eek:
     
  12. opus

    opus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    252
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2004
    Location:
    Montana
    I read nothing regarding 'Bracken' fiddleheads. That article was talking of the Ostrich Fern.

    I did read a bit and it seems they (Bracken) are carcenogenic. That cant be good. *;o)
     
  13. woodenfires

    woodenfires Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    111
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2003
    Location:
    The Moon
    Actually its quite simple. I have seen many many inventions but find this the most efficient, still hard work involved but the cleaning job it does is amazing.
    I took a 5 gallon plastic pail and drilled holes in it everywhere. I am not sure of the bit size right now but its crucial its the proper size or the fiddleheads will fall out when being cleaned. I made one pail , takes a while to drill all those holes, it wasn't the proper size and didn't work well. I will try and fine the bit size, to small is as bad as to big. The brown fluff comes right of fwhen put into a stream of fast moving water, just have to swish it around, I also made a cover with holes but seldom need to use it. I went to a stream and made a small dam with rocks lying around, enough to emerge the pail maybe halfway, then I just keep it moving like a wash machine motion and within a couple of minutes they are perfectly clean and ready to sell or freeze. This makes a huge difference in selling them as without a cleaner it can be a very tedious job, my mom use to uncurl every fiddlehead checking for bugs, no need for that with my pail full of holes. The trick also is not to put to many fiddleheads in at once, just a few handfuls will save lots of work and do a much better job. A stream with fast moving water is necessary for this to work, garden hose will not do the job.
     
  14. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,832
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Location:
    Washington
    Well, as long as the folks don't get cancer till after they've bought your fiddleheads it's ok. Right? ;)

    Seriously, just about any vegetable out there is carcinogenic if you eat enough of it. But who eats 50 lbs of asparagus every single day? The fiddleheads have such a short season that I wouldn't worry about it too much.

    Ok, so we've got people buying bracken fern fiddleheads. Someone on the poultry forum was looking for dandelion seeds. Is there are market for stinging nettle and burdock? Might as well make some money while I'm pulling weeds.
     
  15. opus

    opus Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    252
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2004
    Location:
    Montana
    Knapweed!!! Can we sell it?

    "Any veggie is a carcinogenic"???
     
  16. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

    Messages:
    28,248
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    SE Missouri
    There is a market for stinging nettles and burdock root. I purchase both for my own use. I use a pretty good amt of nettles in cooking. It is high in protein and vitamins and trace minerals. I buy it dry and run it thru the food processor to powder it, then seive out the hard pieces. I put it in soups and stews mostly. It is also excellent fodder for animals. Burdock has medicinal uses. It is also edible, tho I have only used the root for tea. I plan to grow both burdock and nettles when we have moved. Here is more info:

    http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Burdock.html
    http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/n/nettle03.html
     
  17. moonwolf

    moonwolf Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    7,576
    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2004
    Location:
    Canada
    I haven't used nettles, but will try it. I think nettle tea should have good health benefits. The last poultry book I was reading that was written from a german author kept referring to stinging nettles as the best green feed to supplement the poultry flock. It's a worthy plant to seek and utilize. It grows in several large wild bunches that I've seen around here. I got my eye on it now. :D
     
  18. ajaxlucy

    ajaxlucy Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    3,799
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2004
    Location:
    Indiana
    Burdock root is tasty if you shred it very, very finely, simmer in a little water, then saute first in a little oil, then with some soy sauce and sugar. The Asian markets around here sell it for $1-2.00 a root.
     
  19. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,832
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Location:
    Washington

    Hmm, well I know the sheep and goats won't eat it. Maybe the chickens and ducks will enjoy nettles. It's all over here and gets head high.

    That burdock root recipe sounds good, I'll try that.

    Oh! Carcinogenic veggies - I know that broccolli is mildly carcinogenic. As are apples and cabbage. You have to literally eat pounds of them on a daily basis for months to get a big enough dose to maybe make you sick. So, as they say, all things in moderation. Some bracken fern here, a little brocolli there, some cabbage in a week or so...
     
  20. thequeensblessing

    thequeensblessing Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,893
    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2003
    Location:
    Buckfield, Maine
    My grandpa taught us from the time we were little kids that fiddleheads are better left alone. He said you might not feel the effects today, or this week, or even this year, but they will slowly poison you. He said there is enough wild food to eat without eating fiddleheads. There seems to be several sites online that support his "old lore" approach to eating fiddleheads.

    http://www.chm.bris.ac.uk/motm/ptq/ptqh.htm

    http://www.macatawa.org/~oias/poison.htm

    This is just a couple of them. A google search will bring up many articles, both pro and con, regarding eating fiddleheads. As with gathering wild mushrooms, you should be well armed with knowlege before begining.