Fixin’ for Foraged Fiddleheads on Vancouver’s North Shore

By Catherine Dunwoody

“Fiddleheads should start popping up soon near Vancouver, and we’re looking for lady ferns Athyrium filix-femina and bracken ferns Pteridium aquilinum – those are the best in our area,” says Robin Kort of Swallow Tail Culinary Adventures.

For those new to these wonderful, woodland edible plants, fiddleheads are the delicate, curly-cued, tip of the forest fern, and in season for a very short time. The taste is most often described as akin to a mix of asparagus and spinach. “Our foraging tours start in May,” says Kort. “Most of the tours are held on the North Shore as long as enough of the edibles are popping up there.”

Some insider tips if you do hop on the foraging trail? “ Bracken ferns have carcinogens in them (but so does any char on a BBQ chicken),” says Kort. “I would cook all ferns, don’t eat them raw as the carcinogenic component dissolves in water, thus a good way to render them edible.  I prefer bracken ferns which are eaten tons by the Japanese,” she adds.

How to cook your glorious green bounty at home? “I blanch my fiddleheads and then throw them into cold water, soak them for 1/2 hour, change the water and soak for another 1/2 hour.  Then eat them as you would like them, with olive oil and lemon is a nice way.”

Foraging tours for fiddleheads are scheduled starting Sunday May 29th. For complete details visit www.swallowtail.ca.