How to Blanch Fiddleheads for Freezing

Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris)
Fiddlehead ferns growing in a field. (Image: GYRO PHOTOGRAPHY/amanaimagesRF/amana images/Getty Images)

Fiddleheads, the immature fern fronds of the ostrich fern, are the only edible ferns. People consider them a delicacy, with the flavor described as being earthy or similar to asparagus or green beans. They are low in calories, with 35 per serving, and are fat-free. The fiddlehead growing season is quite short--several weeks at best in April or May in the northeast--and those who love the flavor may want to freeze them to enjoy throughout the rest of the year. Fortunately, you can blanch them and keep them in the freezer for up to a year.

Step 1

Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil over high heat. You can cover the pot with a lid to hasten the boiling process.

Step 2

Drop fiddleheads in the boiling water and wait for the water to come back to a boil. Boil them for two minutes.

Step 3

Drain the fiddleheads in a colander, then transfer them to the bowl of ice water. Let them soak in the ice water for a minute or so.

Step 4

Transfer the fiddleheads using a slotted spoon to a clean kitchen towel or paper towels. Pat them dry. Transfer them to freezer-safe containers or bags and freeze.

Things You'll Need

  • Large pot

  • Water

  • Colander

  • Large bowl of ice water

  • Slotted spoon

Tip

You must clean the fiddleheads thoroughly before blanching. Remove the brown husk by rubbing it off with your fingers, then wash them thoroughly in cold water to remove sand and dirt.

Warning

When you defrost the fiddleheads, they still need to be completely cooked before eating-- boiled for at least 10 minutes--as blanching alone is not sufficient to make them safe to eat.

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