Fresh fiddlehead ferns, all curled up! (photo from

Spring is full of great surprises and some unusual veggies.  Last week was all about ramps (hope you found some!), and this week, it’s time to talk about fiddlehead ferns.  These little green veggies are pretty funny-looking, but are packed with nutrition.  Just one ounce of fiddlehead ferns is an excellent source of vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C—this veggie has great antioxidant super powers!  Fiddleheads are actually the fronds of a fern, and they curl into a tight spiral, like the ornamentation on a violin—hence the name.


Fiddlehead ferns are not farmed, but can be picked off of the fern plant in the early spring.  It’s important not to pick off all the fronds from a plant, because this could hurt the plant.  Fiddleheads are extremely seasonal, so get ‘em while you can!  We haven’t grown them YET at HealthBarn USA, but we definitely shop for them at the local farmers’ market.


Go simple with these little green veggies!  Peel away any yellowish skin from the outside of the fiddlehead, and then boil to remove any bitterness.  You can sauté them, steam them, or braise them with other veggies—they’re commonly simmered with other veggies in coconut milk in Indonesia.  Serve over your favorite whole grain such as quinoa or brown rice or toss them into whole wheat pasta with some extra virgin olive oil, garlic and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese!

Have you seen fiddlehead ferns at the farmers’ market?  Ever eaten them?

– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, co-host, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA

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