This comes under the heading of the fact that you learn something new every day. We have a couple of fiddlehead ferns that show up in the garden as happy little harbingers of Spring. I watch for them, and it’s always a treat to see their arrival. There is a very small window when they are available for purchase as a vegetable. But I never eat them.
They are considered a seasonal delicacy. It’s an interesting crop that’s foraged rather than cultivated. Consequently, they are very expensive. Up to $20 a pound in specialty stores and farmer’s markets. I got very sick eating fiddleheads years ago and haven’t touched them since. Yesterday, I discovered why. It seems that fiddleheads contain a toxin that causes stomach pain. The heat of cooking theoretically kills the toxin, but the cooking time needs to be more than a quick sauté. Up to fifteen minutes in boiling water prior to a sauté in butter is often recommended.
Understanding the problem is one thing. Actually tempting fate by eating them again is another. I think I’ll be content with welcoming my fiddleheads as a sign of Spring and leave eating them to other, more trusting consumers.