Finding Fiddleheads with Dev
I got a 7am text of the above treasures from Dev the other day. Yes, that’s right, he had already driven into the woods from the farm, foraged around, and come out with his goods before I had even made coffee. I had a few questions about his inspiration (and his sanity):
So, Dev, in your spare time, you wake up at 4am and go looking for breakfast, huh? What’s the deal with that?
I’m obsessed with edibles that come out of the forest, it’s exhilarating to forage for ingredients while hiking. It makes me feel like I am treasure hunting, you know that feeling…
Maybe…like The Goonies? Why were you excited enough about fiddleheads to bushwhack for them?
Well my excitement for fiddleheads comes because, just like green garlic, it is the first thing the forest offers to eat as we come out of winter/spring. Plus, it is whole lot more rewarding to find compared to the ever so elusive morel mushroom, which can often leave a forager empty-handed and hungry.
How would you describe a fiddlehead to someone who has never had them?
First of all they are TERRIBLE raw…don’t do it! And they make you sick. Once cooked, they have a very earthy and green flavor. When freshly picked and cooked, you can taste the pine smell of the northwest forest. What i like the best about fiddleheads is that they are open to accepting other flavors. Think of them like mellow asparagus, with a similar texture, and much less astringent bite.
When is the season and what do you look forward to doing with them?
The season for fiddleheads is early spring, right after the snow begins to melt. I look forward to a fiddlehead pickle…and then there is my favorite way: blanched and shocked, then into a hot pan add oil and fennel seeds, then your fiddleheads, and give them a nice sear. pull them off the heat and add some garlic paste, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cayenne. Serve em up with some spring lamb or a good ol’ roast chicken. man, I want that right now…
Did you find anything else edible on your trek?
Yes, i sure did! A very juniper-berry-tasting treat called devil’s club buds—they have a super short window of harvest and you gotta get them before their leaves open up and the 1/2 inch spike on the leaves starts poking you (beware the devil’s club!). Also, I came across some wild ginger—no real edible value, but American Indians of the PNW used the dried roots and leaves for tea—man, it’s the best thing and it smells awesome…also the flowers look really cool, kinda orchid-like.
Stay tuned for more walks in the woods with Dev!