After several unsuccessful attempts to find fiddleheads I was getting ready to call up a few friends and ask them where they find theirs. Then one morning I was taking my compost out to the woods behind my house and nearly stepped right on a patch of fiddleheads! I gathered some up and tossed them in the fridge before heading to work.
I rode my bike that morning and as I coasted down the office driveway I peeked into the garden and what did I see? FIDDLEHEADS! The whole garden at my office is overrun. I gathered a bunch of them and had a wonderful fiddlehead stir fry dinner. I even left one on a co-workers desk as a present.
There is some mixed information out there about fiddleheads and how safe they are. Some websites and books will tell you that you need to cook them before they are safe. There doesn't seem to be much evidence of that. What is more probable is that the people who got sick had eaten a different variety of fern than the ostrich fiddlehead. Having compared the two kinds side by side, it's really quite easy to tell the difference between the different varieties and I'm not worried about eating the wrong kind. The key thing is that edible fiddleheads are smooth and shiny and have a very deep groove along the inside of the stems. When they are uncurled, they stick straight up and don't lay close to the ground.
I like to throw my fiddleheads into my stir fry and cook them just a little. They add a great, clean crunch and some healthy, early greens to dinner. Bon appetit!