Fiddleheads Are Delicious, But Here’s Why You Just Cannot Eat Them Raw
I actually kind of forget about fiddleheads the rest of the year.
Their season is so short, that once July rolls around, I kind of fondly write them off in my memory for the rest of the year. And then sometime in the spring when things are starting to turn a bit more green instead of brown, friends on Facebook start flooding my newsfeed with pictures of the fiddleheads they just picked.
I'll be honest, I'm not ambitious enough to go pick my own. Generally, I like to buy them from someone right on the side of the road. They're often less than a day old, and a lot of times, picked just that morning. Not to say the ones in grocery stores aren't any good, but I also like to help the little guy.
The importance of handling them properly, can't be stressed enough.
Everybody has their favorite way to cook/eat them, so I'm not going to fill this page with recipes, but under no circumstances should you eat fiddleheads raw. No one is even 100% sure why they make you sick, but you will regret every bite you took. You can end up with symptoms that can include nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, or vomiting. The CDC even has a web page dedicated to reports of fiddlehead illness.
It's super easy to avoid getting sick, though.
Mostly, clean them off really well. All the dirt and brown papery skin, and rinse them til the water runs clear. Then, simply boil or steam them for ten minutes. Then you can eat them as is, or cook them up however you like from that point.
The real trick is, they just need to be boiled first. If you saute raw ones in a pan for a few minutes, even if they're hot all the way through, they could still make you sick. I've had the sickness myself years ago, and it's awful. It's like all the best parts of the flu, but with no aches or fever. Ugh. Trust me... It's no joke. But otherwise, be safe and enjoy.