Garlicky Wild Fiddlehead Ferns (my answer to GMO’s)


Fiddlehead ferns gently sauteed with garlic and herbs are tender, flavorful, with just a bit of a crispness left to them. They taste a little like asparagus. Very delicious……and very wild.

And yes, they really are from ferns! They are fern shots from a certain ostrich fern (not all ferns are edible, by the way, so take come classes before you start trying to gather them yourself!). Fiddlehead ferns are only available for a short time, so grab them while you can! Your best bet for finding them is at local farmer markets.

My fiddlehead ferns were bought from my local farmer’s market where a lady coordinates a booth selling products from different professional wild food gatherers. There were many items to choose from, but the fiddlehead ferns were on the top of my list to try. Yum! They were good.

But more than just their culinary value, I feel that wild food is on the opposite spectrum of genetically modified food. Wild food isn’t even cultivated, but simply needs to be gathered (and yes, they are generally very high in nutrients). On the other hand, genetically modified food took not only a lot of cultivation, pesticides and other human intervention, but also required a scientist to create it in the first place. GMO’s are the scientific worlds answer to nature’s natural resources.

Unfortunately, unless you are eating an all organic diet, you are probably consuming far more GMO’s then you realize (about 75 percent of the food in the supermarket contains GMO’s). Even more unfortunately, those GMO’s are probably hurting you more than you think. In fact, some countries consider them so bad they are completely banned from the country (and we have them in 70 percent of our food? Are we crazy?).

To spread the word about GMO’s, there is a No GMO Challenge going on this month, complete with carnival’s and prizes. Check it out and consider joining it-not because it’s another thing to join, but because I believe the message is important and the challenge vital to our health. Challenge yourself, can you go a month without eating GMO’s?

Meanwhile, here is the perfect antidote to GMO’s. A wild-gathered fiddlehead fern dish in it’s natural unaltered glory.


Garlicky Fiddlehead Ferns

    About 1/2 pound of fiddlehead fern
    3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
    2 or more tablespoons of fresh herbs (basil, parsley, thyme, lovage)
    Combination of olive oil and butter or ghee, olive oil and lard, or your choice of oil/fat

1-Wash the fiddleheads. Remove any fuzz found in the “curl” of the fiddlehead (easily done by running a finger through the curl or simply rinsing with plenty of water). Dry. I like to do this process in my salad spinner.

2-In a large skillet heat your oil/fat, until hot and add the fiddleheads and garlic cloves. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the fiddleheads are soft with just a hint of crispness left to them. I simply kept taking one out and eating it to find out if they were done! I don’t like them overly crisp, as I find their flavor not as good when undercooked. But when they are well cooked and tender, they are delicious!

3-In the last minute or two, add the herbs, salt and pepper to taste, and then serve while hot.


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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. spencer says

    Your awsome! Those look tastey, I have never made the time to collect a nice harvest of fiddle heads like that, you must have found a great spot. Did Elena help, my kids love collecting wild food, my son even eats bitter dandelion greens if he picks them!

  2. says

    I used to love going to the mountains in OR and picking fiddleheads! You want to always steam or cook them, never eat them raw. We loved them sauteed with a little butter, topped with parmesan cheese. I doubt we can find them down south, but thank you for the wonderful memory! I stumbled your post.

  3. says

    Yum, I’ve been wanting to try those since I heard of them… but my farmer’s market doesn’t have any. I did however have someone confirm that I am growing miners lettuce in weedy part of my yard. I need to remember to pick and serve some with dinner tonight. 🙂 (Evil laugh as I see the nervous look on my husbands face.)

  4. says

    Thank you for the simple recipe for fiddlehead ferns. I was looking for another recipe for them.

    I was first introduced to them years ago by a farmer at the Union Square Farmers’ Market in New York City when I lived there. They’re just delicious!

  5. Julie says

    Fiddlehead ferns are a new england vegetable that tell us “spring is here”. I just had a batch last night for dinner. Delicious.
    A lot of people don’t know about them because of the shortness of the window of eatablity and the fact that they only grow in certain places of the country.

  6. says

    I was so excited because I thought I had discovered fiddlehead ferns on our family hike this afternoon. I came here immediately to compare them, and sadly, I’m pretty sure they’re not fiddleheads. 🙁

    It was a good try, anyways. Now you’ve got me on the lookout for some!

  7. says

    Do you ever add vinegar to your fiddleheads? An old friend suggested I make them with butter, vinegar, S&P and that’s it. I like your idea of the garlic. I had a friend send me fiddleheads from MA and they arrived today! I’m going to do them with butter, olive oil (small but equal proportions), garlic, S&P and apple cider vinegar. Can’t wait!

  8. Angie says

    I just saw your post and even though it’s kind of old I want to warn your readers that while tasty, fiddleheads MUST be cooked for at least 10 minutes or they might risk food poisoning. Also, depending on where you live, different varieties of fiddleheads have proven to be carcinogenic. Please find these things out before going out and harvesting them. Also, please, please be cautious not to over-harvest wild plants.

  9. says

    A friend of mine brought me some of these on Thursday. I’ve read that they’re only good 5 days post picking, so I hope they’ll be okay still.

    Here on Maui the locals call these pohole (po-ho-lay), and the other Hawaiian name is ho’i’o (ho-ee-o).

    They grow year round here. A restaurant I frequent has a delicious pohole fern salad which I get a taro burger on top of. Yum!

  10. says

    We are a 4th generation family-run business and we specialize in fresh fiddlehead ferns during the short season they are available. We sell them in 5 and 10 lb bags; we are prepping for their arrival now. We have a few recipes on our site, but this one looks really good 🙂 Andrea Ruma


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