Monday, May 7, 2012

Facts about Finding and Harvesting Maine Fiddleheads

It’s that time of year when the picking is ripe for Maine fiddleheads. If you’re lucky enough to have your own plot of land where fiddleheads grow, then now is the time to head outdoors for harvest.

Quick Maine Fiddlehead Facts

If you’ve never harvested, eaten or preserved fiddleheads, it’s best to read up on the subject.

When are Fiddleheads in Season?

Fiddleheads are in season from late April until early June.

Where do Fiddleheads Grow?

Fiddleheads prefer growing near moving water along Maine’s rivers, streams and brooks.

Which Type is Best for Eating?

In Maine, the ostrich fern is the most popular for eating. In spring, the fern produce small coils which are harvested before blooming.

How to Identify Ostrich Fern Fiddleheads

The small coils, about an inch in diameter, are found in clusters ranging from 3 to 12 heads. The stems are smooth and U-shaped. Identify ostrich fern fiddleheads by the brown paper-like covering on the head. Find pictures for easier identification here.

How to Harvest Fiddleheads

Ostrich fern fiddleheads should be harvested when the coils have grown to 1 to 2 inches above the ground. Remove the delicate brown covering.

How to Clean Fiddleheads

Rinse fiddleheads under cold water to remove dirt and debris. Submerge fiddleheads in a bowl of clean, cold water. Repeat steps as necessary until all dirt and brown coverings are removed.


Please make sure you are harvesting and eating ostrich fern fiddleheads. Some types of fiddleheads can make you sick. More info

Additional Reading

* The U-Maine Cooperative Extension website has lots of great information for the Maine gardener. The information is tailored to our region and submitted by trusted professionals. 

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