Foraging and Cooking Wild Food

Living out in the bush and limited trips into town means that one needs to have a different lifestyle than the suburb living folks who pass a store almost daily. Learning to forage for wild food subsidizes gardening and farming for a well balanced table. Foraging also gives one time to be in touch with nature. While picking blueberries, one can listen to the birds singing and observe nature all around. Wearing bells and making noise keeps the wildlife at bay, but it goes against all my nature viewing instincts.

When it comes to blueberries, it is easy knowing how to fix them in a variety of ways for the table (Blueberry Dumplings being our favorite), but when it came to fiddlehead ferns, having only eaten them once before, never having fixed them and not having any recipes for doing so, I had to step out on my own and experiment. I was however quite pleased with my very first fiddlehead dish. My choice on how to fix them was quite a hit with both my husband and myself. I sautéed the fiddleheads with onions in sesame oil and served them with a pasta dish.

I must add a warning here, BEFORE eating anything make sure you can positively identify it and know that it is eatable.

Recipes by Cynda LeTullier.

Fiddlehead Ferns:

Harvest and clean 4 cups fiddlehead ferns. Cut and dice 1 large onion. Add 1/8 cup sesame oil to large skillet.

Place fiddlehead ferns and onion in skillet and sauté together.

Serve hot.

EDITORS NOTE: Be aware there are different varieties of fern fiddleheads, and some may be mildly toxic. The best type for eating is the Ostrich Fern; Cinnamon Fern and Interrupted Fern may be bitter and mildly toxic. Bracken Fern fiddleheads have been shown to contain a carcinogen; cooking evidently destroys this chemical. Millions of people consider the Bracken Fern fiddleheads to be edible.

A foodborne illness was attributed to undercooked fiddleheads in the 1990s. Do not eat them raw. Proper handling and cooking reduces the risk of illness. Many authorities recommend cooking fiddleheads for 15 minutes when boiling, at 10 to 12 minutes if steamed.

Blueberry Dumplings:

6 cups blueberries
1 cup honey

Dumpling Mixture:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter or corn oil
1 cup water

Place blueberries and honey in large pot and bring to a slow boil

For dumplings: Combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Add liquid ingredients and mix well.

Spoon drop dumpling mixture into hot blueberries and cover. Cook at a low simmer until dumplings are cooked through (not doughy).

Serve warm with fresh sweet milk.

  • Published on Jan 5, 2015
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