May 8, 2015 10:17 am

Health Canada issues warning over eating raw, undercooked fiddleheads

While they're safe to eat, fiddleheads must be cleaned and cooked properly.

CP PICTURE ARCHIVE/AP, Craig Line
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Health Canada has issued a warning to consumers over the preparation of fiddleheads.

Fiddleheads are a green vegetable harvested in the spring. They can be purchased at grocery stores, farmers’ markets and roadside stands.

While the green veggie is safe to eat, Health Canada said fiddleheads can cause illness if not properly prepared and cooked.

“Eating raw or undercooked fiddleheads can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and headaches,” read a statement posted to Health Canada’s website Thursday.

The federal agency said that while there have been cases in Canada and the U.S. of people getting sick from consuming raw or uncooked fiddleheads, “there have been no cases associated with eating fully cooked fiddleheads.”

When prepared properly, fiddleheads can be a great seasonal addition to your dinner table, providing vitamin C, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. One serving of fiddleheads (100 grams) contains around 34 calories and 4.6 grams of protein.

Health Canada offered these tips to ensure you’re cleaning, cooking and storing fiddleheads properly:

Cleaning

  • Wash hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling fiddleheads
  • Remove as much of the brown husk as possible
  • Wash fiddleheads using several changes of clean, cold water

Cooking

  • Cook fiddleheads by boiling for 15 minutes or steaming for 10 to 12 minutes, until they are tender. Discard water after cooking
  • Boil or steam fiddleheads, as described above, before using in recipes that call for other cooking methods like stir-frying or baking

Freezing

  • Clean fiddleheads thoroughly
  • Boil for two minutes and discard the water
  • Rinse fiddleheads in cold water and drain
  • Pack them in sealed bags or containers
  • Store in the freezer for up to one year
  • Follow the cooking instructions above before serving

Never had fiddleheads? Try these recipes featuring the green veggie from Food Network Canada (just remember to adhere to cook times provided by Health Canada above):

In this May 6, 2011 file photo, a pair of ferns begin to unfurl their fiddlehead fronds in Freeport, Maine.

AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File
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