DISCLAIMER: Before you attempt to forge ANY kind of wild plant, be sure you know, without any doubt, what it is you are forging and that it is safe to consume. It is very easy to mistake a toxic plant for one that is thought to be edible. I am not an expert forger and I do not claim to be one. I am just sharing my experiences with forging wild food. I have check, re-checked and re-checked again to be sure that what I forge is safe to eat. I encourage anyone who reads this to do the same. DO NOT base your forging facts on the information I provide alone!… Ever see the movie Into the Woods?… exactly…
Ok, I know they don’t look like much but I am extremely excited about finding these native ostrich fiddlehead ferns at our local library plant sale last weekend. These ferns are hard to find! And they are edible!
The term “fiddlehead” refers to a young, tightly coiled fern frond because it looks like the scroll of a violin. The fern is ONLY EDIBLE at this stage! There are many other fiddlehead ferns that look very similar to this but they are not edible! They contain high levels of carcinogens and should not be eaten. Even the Ostrich fiddleheads, the most edible fiddlehead, contain some toxins but they are safe to eat as long as you cook them well and do not eat large quantities or gorge yourself on fiddleheads for days.
There are two specific things I look for when forging for fiddleheads:
1) They have a papery substance that is peeling off the stem
2) They have a groove in the inside area of the stem
FYI – When they are in season, I have also seen fiddleheads for sale at Whole Foods. You can take a good look at them there to be sure you know what they look like
Here are a couple of other links with more information:
A great video showing how to identify Ostrich Fiddleheads http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2yEdUkx8UQ