Fiddlehead Safety Tips

Wayne Harvey

Updated 2 years ago

With the arrival of warm spring weather also comes the arrival of fiddlehead season in Maine.The ferns start to pop up in late April and early May.In an effort to make sure everyone stays safe, doesn’t eat the wrong ferns and gets sick the University of Maine is reminding people of a couple of key points to avoid any type of foodborne illness.The first tip is to make sure you are picking the right one, the Ostrich Fern is the one that is edible, others are not edible, some are even poisonous.And to make certain they are in a clean environment and not near polluted water or soil.You can get sick, and you’ll have the normal stomach related issues that could last 24 to 72 hours.”Cases have been reported, they are not 100 percent sure what the actual, what’s causing the sickness or the foodborne illness, they’re not sure if it’s micro-organism or bacteria or if it’s chemical related,” said UMaine Assistant Extension Profession and Food Safety Specialist Jason Bolton, Ph.D. “Researchers have been spending actually years looking at this and they haven’t come to any real conclusions on what’s going on with this, but they do know how to prevent it.”Those tips include making certain the fiddlehead is washed thoroughly, and then it must be cooked even if you are going to put it in a casserole or stir fry it, they must be boiled or steamed first.They need to boil for at least 15 minutes, and be steamed for 10 to 12 minutes to make sure they are safe to eat, or safe to can or freeze for storage.For more information visit UMaine’s Facts On Fiddleheads sheet, or visit the UMaine Website and search Fiddlehead Facts.


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