Truth be told, my stomach for green things had a threshold sitting somewhere below sea level until I was into my early twenties. Shameful, I know. Since then, I’ve been anxious to at least try new vegetation (I didn’t say I’d like it), and fiddleheads—the furled fronds of young ferns—are high on my list.
There are some caveats to harvesting these adolescent springtime delicacies yourself, up to and including potential food poisoning and natural toxins if you don’t know your way around a woodland harvest. But one of our own experts, John Mickel (NYBG senior curator emeritus, fern expert, and secretary of the New York Fern Society for decades) was on hand to put at least one concern to rest in this quick rundown of the latest trend in foraged food.
As always, don’t eat anything wild without knowing what you’re doing. And be sure to have a thorough understanding of your area’s collection laws; if you don’t know the status of what you’re picking, and it’s not your land, best to leave it alone. Click through for the fiddlehead rundown, complete with preparation tips. —MN