Preparing your fiddleheads

To prepare the fiddleheads:

First, soak your fiddleheads in cold water for 10 minutes and rub off any brown, papery scales with your fingers or a soft cloth. This substance is extremely bitter.

Drain, add fresh water, and soak an additional 5 minutes. If the second water is still quite dark and murky, soak them a third time.

These prep steps are extremely important, so don't rush the process. Put on some music and putter around with other tasks. It is well worth the effort.

Set a large pot of salted water over high heat and, once it is boiling, add the prepared fiddleheads. Return to a good boil, then blanch for 1 or 2 minutes.

The water will darken as the tannin is released from the sprouts. This can be alarming, as the water will be as dark as over-steeped English breakfast tea. That is good! It means the tannin has left the greens, and your fiddleheads will not be bitter.

Drain the fiddleheads and immediately blanch them by plunging them into a colander submerged in ice water to stop the cooking and set the color.

Once the fiddleheads are completely chilled, put them onto a fresh tea towel and pat them dry, or spin them in your salad spinner.

You can do all this ahead of time and refrigerate the fiddleheads for several days before you are ready to use them.

This Special section was submitted to The Commons.

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