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Thursday
May232013

Foraging for fiddleheads.

 Last week we went on a canoe trip with Dave to one of his secret foraging spots to find some fiddleheads.  Fiddleheads are the nickname of a juvenile edible fern that grows around much of New England, known commonly as the ostrich fern or Ptretis pensylvanica, if your so inclined. 

It's always a special adventure when someone offers to show you one of their secret spots, especially one so rich in amazing plants!  So, we put in to a river that will remain unnamed and floated to the banks of the spot...  As we climbed over the banks we realized it was perfect timing. 

We had never harvested fiddleheads before and we learned from Dave, that the best ones are just starting to unfurl from the clumps.  Luckily the rainy weather had kept any other wildcrafters away, often when someone picks through a patch the plants will signal one another and the whole patch will unfurl soon after, to protect the remaining plants from being overharvested.  We also found some great patches of nettles, an amazing medicinal, and grabbed up a few bunches to bring home to dry for tea.

  When we got home we cleaned off the chafe(the brown outer shell that is high in tannins and has a bitter taste) by rubbing the dry fiddleheads in front of a fan.  We then blanched most of them and packed them into serving sizes and froze them for an out of season treat.  The rest we cooked up and ate over the next week and they were delicious!!  All in all it was a great way to spend an afternoon with friends and we are thankful to Dave for the experience.  If you've never harvested fiddleheads Do Some Research First!! or go with someone who knows how to identify them.  It's not hard, but there are other ferns that are poisonous if ingested.  And as always with wildharvesting don't overharvest!  Leave more than you take, so they will always be there.  If they've already been harvested heavily, don't take more, just enjoy the opportunity to walk in the woods!

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