Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How to blanche Fiddleheads

On the East; we have a wonderful little treasure that grows once a year in the springtime called Fiddleheads. They are available usually for a few weeks to a month; in May – and you can either pick them yourself on the riverbanks or purchase them at a roadside stand for $3.00 a pound in smaller Towns; and $4.99 a pound in large Cities.

Fiddleheads are a fern; and also known to some as the Fiddlehead Fern. You pick the heads as they just sprout up from their encasing – you don’t want the ones that are grown up tall; or almost a fern. The flavour is said to resemble asparagus, or green beans.

MS and I really enjoy fiddleheads and we usually go up to my parents place and my dad takes us down to his favourite spot to pick them. We usually end up with a full bucket; which for the two of us lasts a year. In order to keep them; you must blanche them first before freezing. If they are blanched and frozen you can keep them for up to 18 months in your freezer. It’s a fun family activity – and rewarding to have gone out and picked your own food!

What you will need:

Large bowl
Cold Water
Large spoon with holes in it
Freezer bags

To blanche fiddleheads:

1. Firstly, you will need to clean the fiddleheads; this is a difficult task as they have a silky brown casing on them; similar to that in a peanut shell and this can be difficult to wash away. It is best to do this in a stream if possible, and then rewash at home.

2. Once this is done, boil a pot of water – with a dash of salt in it; once the water is boiling place some fiddleheads in the pot of boiling water for 2 minutes. Have a bowl full of very cold water and ice cubes ready in the sink – after the 2 minutes is over, scoop the fiddleheads out of the water and place in cold water. This will stop the cooking process. (You will notice that the fiddleheads have turned a lighter green shade; and your water will be black…do not be alarmed this is normal.) Disgard the water and start the process again.

3. Take the fiddleheads from the cold water and place in a strainer – after a few minutes in the strainer, place handfuls in a freezer bag – portion for the size of your family and then they are ready to freeze.

Fiddleheads are best boiled or steamed - served with vinegar, butter and salt and pepper! Enjoy!

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