The Moosehead Lake region is known for a Maine spring delicacy which is in high demand.
Fiddleheads are only available in Maine from late April to early June. They are the coiled tips of young ostrich ferns that grow near brooks, rivers and lakes.
Since they are the furled fronds of a young fern, the window for harvesting them is small. Left on the plant, each fiddlehead would unroll into a fern. Fiddleheads should be picked just as they begin to curl up from the soil.
Fiddleheads are best enjoyed steamed with butter or salt and vinegar. They can also be blanched and frozen to enjoy year-round or they can be pickled. However, if you haven’t had them fresh, be sure to start there. Fiddleheads should be washed thoroughly in cold water before cooking and are not to be eaten raw.
To many Mainers, they are a delicious vegetable with a woodsy taste like asparagus, spinach and mushrooms combined.
Want to try them? Ask a local for how to identify the ostrich fern as not all ferns are edible. Maybe someone will share the secret of their best picking spot with you so you can head out to pick some yourself.
Please harvest responsibly.
When picking fiddleheads, it is recommended to take only half the tops per cluster for sustainable harvest.
Repeated over-picking will eventually kill the plant. Sustainably harvesting them allows us to enjoy them each and every spring.
Photos provided by Monica Bates