May 05, 2021
By: Luke Pizzale
After all the April showers a sure sign of spring can be seen by all the green buds peeking out of the soil. For generations fiddleheads have been foraged in forests throughout Ontario. These nutritious little fiddles can be handpicked for a very short growing period in the early spring. As the fiddleheads grow they will soon become full grown fern plants.
Norcliff farms was started by Nicolas Secord in the 70’s, supplying the local communities with sustainably foraged and chemical free wild fiddleheads. Flash forward to 2008 when Nicolas and his partner Nina start the FIRST fiddlehead farm in North America at their home in Port Colborne Ontario, with their fiddleheads being shipped all over the country. The company is currently run by Brittany who is rebranding the company under the ForageGirl name. She has been working hard on new packaging that is 100% plant based and sustainable and is 90% to that goal. The goal is to reduce their carbon footprint and contribute to a healthier planet. The packaging will break down in 180 days in an industrial compost facility. These fiddleheads in these beautiful packages have been triple washed to ensure they are clean, fresh and convenient.
Traditionally fiddleheads would be hand picked and shipped out in a bulk box. To preserve quality while shipping, farmers would add water to the box so the fiddleheads did not dry out in transport. The stem will always darken after being cut from oxidization due to its high iron content; this does not mean it is going bad. The fiddleheads would continue to live in a hydrated display at the grocery store, until they were taken home and washed by you. It is important to clean your fiddleheads before consumption. This can be done by running them under cold water and rubbing away any undesirables and dirt that might be hiding in the leaf coil. ForageGirl’s packaged fiddleheads are triple washed for you, ensuring you are getting a cleaned, ready to eat product. Fiddleheads are not to be enjoyed raw, they must be cooked first. Be sure to boil them for at least 10-15 minutes – after that, go ahead and eat them, or get frying, baking or whatever you’d like to do. For endless recipes see the forage girl website at Recipes – ForageGirl Fiddleheads. Fiddleheads are one of the first treats of local season we can enjoy, but they do not have to be limited to their 2 month season. They can be blanched, frozen and enjoyed all year round.