In late May or early June, in the pine forests where blue grouse have just left for their lower elevation spring breeding grounds, wild fiddlehead ferns will be popping up in the forests of Colorado and are ripe for the picking.  In Asian markets, these delicacies cost on the same par as chanterelles. And, lest you think they are something like foraging for stinging nettles, sorrels, dandelions, or pine tree needle buds, only to be disappointed later in the kitchen with the raw or bitter tastes of your find, the fiddlehead fern actually tastes superb, much like asparagus.  The ostrich fiddlehead ferns were among the first wild edibles discovered by European-Americans, and are slightly different from the lady fiddlehead ferns found in the Rocky Mountain and Pacific Northwest.

Fiddlehead ferns are harvested when they are very young (the shoots should be 5-8″) and before they have unfurled into true ferns.  Don’t destroy the roots by pulling up the fern, just break it off or snip it off 1-2″ above the ground and well below the curl so that the plant comes back.  When you get them home, rinse them well.  They are ready for cooking fresh, and should be used within a few days or set on drying on racks or mesh sheets, allowed to fully dry, at which point they can be kept dry for a year.

Asian Fiddlehead Fern Recipe from Sharon White

Soak dried ferns overnight in water, rinsing well

Boil 1 hr. or until big and soft

Rinse in cold water

Chop into 1” pieces

Cover in sauce of sesame oil, olive oil, minced garlic, soy sauce, salt and pepper.   Can also add chopped toasted pine nuts.