How to Cook Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads need thorough cleaning and preparation, but this short guide gives you everything you need to know to confidently cook fiddleheads!
read time
1 minutes


Prep Time
30 minutes
Total Time
30 minutes
How To
Foraged, Wild


Fiddleheads Ingredients
- Fiddleheads


Step 1 - Trim the bases

1. Trim the base of each fiddlehead with a paring knife, removing any dark or soft bits of the stalk.

Trim the bases
Trim the bases
Step 2 - Submerge in cool water

2. In a large bowl, submerge the fiddleheads in cool water.

Submerge in cool water
Submerge in cool water
Step 3 - Agitate & rub

3. Agitate/rub each one to release any debris trapped in the coils. Lift the fiddleheads from the water and pour off the dirty water. Repeat the process until the water runs mostly clear and the fiddleheads are clean (usually 2-3 times).

Agitate & rub
Agitate & rub
Step 4 - Blanch in salted water

4. Prepare a bowl of ice water, and bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the fiddleheads in the boiling water for 15-45 seconds, until their color turns bright green.

Blanch in salted water
Blanch in salted water
Step 5 - Shock in ice water

5. Immediately transfer the fiddleheads to the ice water, halting the cooking and preserving their texture.

Shock in ice water
Shock in ice water
Step 6 - Drain & dry

6. Drain and dry the fiddleheads. Store in the refrigerator in wax paper or an open plastic container.

Drain & dry
Drain & dry

What do Fiddleheads taste like?

Just like many spring stalks (or more accurately, stipes), fiddleheads taste similar to asparagus: vegetal, green, and subtly sweet. The key difference is fiddleheads also have a pleasant earthiness (some say muskiness) that adds layers of minerality, and occasionally, bitterness. The method of prearation here helps minimize bitterness by rinsing and blanching before you cook them according to a recipe’s instructions.

Do I Need to Clean Fiddleheads?

Yes. Because of how they grow, fiddleheads commonly have dirt and debris trapped within their tight coils. We recommend submerging your trimmed fiddleheads in cool water, and then agitating and rubbing them to release any sediment. 

Do I need to Cook Fiddleheads?

Yes. While some people are able to eat fiddleheads raw, the plant has the potential to be mildly toxic if eaten without cooking. Avoid the potential of stomach issues by following these steps for preparation, and thoroughly cook them according to your recipe’s instructions.

How do I cook with Fiddleheads?

We recommend the blanch and shock method in combination with your recipe’s cooking instructions. Once you’ve completed the steps below, they can be sauteed in butter, cooked in a pasta sauce, steamed in a salad, or baked in a frittata. Get creative!

Where to buy Fiddleheads

Right here! Foraged Market lets you buy fresh foods directly from foragers, farmers, and craft food makers.

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Need some inspiration or insight on how to use your new goods? We got it.