Fiddleheads are an early spring treat in Maine. Nearly all ferns have fiddleheads but not all fiddleheads are edible. For information on safely harvesting , cleaning, cooking, and preserving fiddleheads, please refer to Cooperative Extension University of Maine Bulletin # 4198.Like all foods fiddleheads have to be handled correctly to decrease risk of food borne illness. https://extension.umaine.edu/publications/4198e/
Cleaned fiddleheads must be boiled or steamed according to instructions in Bulletin # 4198. They should not be cooked by sautéing, stir frying, or microwaving. Fiddleheads should be boiled or steamed as directed in Bulletin # 4198 , prior to use in other recipes that call for sautéing, stir frying, or baking.
I was lucky this weekend to have been given a very generous portion of fiddleheads. They were cleaned at the site and most of the brown sheath was gone. I cut off the ends and cleaned them per directions of Bulletin # 4198.
I froze seven packages(2 cups each) of fiddleheads this weekend. Per the Cooperative Extension Bulletin these are the steps I did in freezing my fiddleheads. Pictures of each step can be seen at the bottom of the post.
1. Initial cleaning was done at site
2. Final cleaning of fiddleheads
3. Blanched fiddleheads in small batches for 2 minutes in boiling water. I had water boiling when I placed fiddleheads in it. Timing started when water comes to a rolling boil again.
4. I removed fiddleheads from boiling water and immediately placed them in an ice water bath for 2 minutes. (ice water bath was ½ ice and ½ cold water.)
5. I allowed fiddleheads to drip dry before packaging.
6. For my freezer containers I used 1 quart freezer zip lock bags.
7. I labeled, and dated bags and placed them in my freezer.
To use frozen fiddleheads, thaw in refrigerator. After they are thawed, place in boiling water. When water comes a rolling boil again, boil for at least 15 minutes.