Monday, May 31, 2010

Spring: Fiddleheads

So it's spring and the first sign of spring to me is the arrival of fiddleheads - which have actually been around for a couple of weeks now. Fiddleheads are of course our most emblematic local food and pretty easy to find so I'm sure no-one needs help in that department. But fiddleheads are becoming increasingly popular because of recent confirmations of their very high nutritional value - not just in minerals and Vit A and C but in antioxidants ( double that of our other emblematic food: blueberries) and Omega-3s. See the recent CBC article on a NS scientist arguing for fiddleheads to be commercially farmed because of their nutritional value:
Of course, as usual, science has simply re-proven what First Nations here have known for thousands of years - fiddleheads are incredibly good for you, eat 'em while they're here.

(Apparently food does fascinate university students, check out this reaction to the fiddlehead news from a science student at Waterloo: - with recipe attached.)

There is some debate over how to prepare fiddleheads - the government recommends 10 minutes of boiling, since undercooking of fiddleheads can make you ill. I'm a long time practitioner of the method laid out in Marie Nightingale's "Out of Old Nova Scotia Kitchens", the bible of traditional Maritime cooking, which is to steam them in the "water that clings after rinsing" (several times of course to remove the chaff). This method does mean careful watching however and I have been known to burn them when I've left them unattended, so be forewarned. Some great recipes are at the end of this article from Vitality Magazine:
Fiddleheads Taste Like Spring

Other spring greens are showing up as well: I found fabulous local asparagus at Les Fleurs du Pommier at the Dieppe Market. And I've had mixed greens already from Dave Bunnett's Farm (he who produces grass fed beef in Havelock, but more on that later...). He too is at Dieppe market. So you can pretty easily green up your diet with local greens even now.

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