Information on Fiddleheads
It won't be long now. Picture one of
the first warm days of spring. You
walk through your favorite shady
woods. There at your feet, peeping
> through the winter detritus of leaves
and twigs, is a fiddlehead, welcoming
spring just as its ancestors have
} since the Carboniferous age, about
' 400 million years ago.
Ferns are composed of under -
' ground rhizomes which produce new
' sets of leaves each growing season.
J Fern leaves are called fronds, and
? new leaves rise from the ground in a
> beautiful coiled shape known as fid
! dleheads. Since prehistoric times,
' humans have gathered the shoots
and included them as a delicious
fresh green vegetable in their diets.
Fiddleheads are still an interesting
and nutorious food source.
Ferns may be propogated by divi
sion of the crown, but more interest
ing is to brush the spores off into a
bag, let dry for a week or two and
shake into a container of moist leaf
mold and sand or sterilized soil.
; Cover with thin layers spagnum
Set the container into a saucer of
water. Cover with glass to retain hu
Ferns prefer basically lime-rich
soil with humus content and partial
shade. Transplant in spring just be
fore growth begins. Since rhizomes
will grow through leaves and other
material on top of the soil, do not
rake a fern bed, which may cause in
* jury. If humus and water are suffi
"t cent, extra fertilizer will not be
Chemicals may harm ferns. Only
i after you strongly suspect an infesta
* tion of fern scale, hemispherical
, scale or soft brown scale, an insecti
cide containing malathion may be
employed, This treatment is usually
avoided by keeping fronds clean with
Thrip and red spiders can also be
dislodged with a healthy spray of wa
T. Until recently, unless you had a
natural source for fiddleheads, it was
difficult to obtain them commer
cially. They are available, frozen or
- canned only in large metropolitan
area of the U.S. and Canada. But now
things are beginning to change, and
more and more stores will be selling
these tasty crosies.
For 10 years the New Brunswick
Department of Agriculture has been
the world's leader in research and
commerical implementation of fid
dleheads as a valuable food source.
I talked with Dr. Brian Dykeman
I at the Horticulture Center, located
close to Fredericton, a chilly part of
' Canada. In fact, on Christmas Eve
* when I chatted with staffer Eileen
Perry, she told me that the tempera
? ture was 12 degrees? below zero.
Dr. Dykeman's procedure is to
plant 4000 one-year-old clones varie
ties of the Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia
struthiopteris) to an acre of land.
Within six years the clones have re
produced by rhizomes and number
150,000 "crowns," or large plants.
These may grow to seven feet tall by
the end of summer. Eventually about
12 heads per crown will be harvested
and replanted, with peak production
at about eight years.
That's a lot of fiddleheads, to be
sure, but quantity will not make them
cheap for the consumer! Like aspar
agus, fiddleheads are highly labor-in
tensive, requiring hand harvesting.
The season is short: any one variety
of fern can be harvested for only
about a week.
Some ferns are better avoided.
Bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum)
is suspected of being a strong carcin
i ogen, a result of certain alkaloid
compounds. Let us understand,
though, that resultant cancer has oc
curred only in laboratory rats
treated with massive doses f the al
kaloids. Eating a few bracken fiddle
heads in early spring, will hardly
spell the final end for an unsuspect
An Ostrich fern fiddlehead is easily
identified by its distinct glossy round
head that rises about 2 inches from
the soil before starting to unfold.
Most fiddleheads have fuzzy, light
green heads. There are so many
around here you can harvest, such as
the Virginia Chain fern, Lady fern,
Silvery Glade, Broad Beech and
Maidenhair. I really like the taste,
which I describe as a cross between
asparagus and mushrooms, with
maybe a little broccoli thrown in on
To freeze fiddleheads, remove the
brown papery protective sheath,
blanch two minutes drain and plunge
in ice water to preserve color. Let
dry and then package.
Now, for the delicious part. Gather
ye fiddleheads whilst ye may,
whether they be fresh, frozen, or
canned. Try some of these simple
recipe suggestions for a wonderful
Wolfgang Puck at Spago's suggests
simmering the fiddleheads in
chicken stock until tenderm drain,
cool, and sautee quickly in hazelnut
oil. A good accompaniment for
broiled chicken and cornish hens.
Elaine Perry in New Brunswick
admits that by the time she's finished
working with 30 or 40 thousand fiddle
heads some days, her clothes and
hair have taken on a distinct aroma
that causes the little shoots to lose
their appeal for her. But her family
loves them stir fried in corn oil with a
little garlic, and Elaine's a good
Steam fiddleheads quickly, refresh
in cold water. Let dry. Add to a salad
of fresh spring greens, such as aru
gula, red lettuce, scallions, young
dandelion leaves and chicory. Dress
with a basic French dressing into
which you have slipped a small
amount of Dijon mustard or cumin.
Cut ferns while shoots are still
tightly curled in crosiers. Wash thor
oughly. Tie in bundles of eight or ten
and steam quickly. When fiddleheads
turn bright green, lift and refresh in
very cold water. Drain.
Just before serving, dip in boiling
water to reheat, place on platter and
serve with hollandaise sauce.
Prepare fern as above.
In a bowl mix a tempura batter:
1 one-third cup all-purpose flour or
1 teaspoon salt
V4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 beaten egg yolks
Add while stirring:
% cup flat beer
Allow batter to rest covered and re
frigerated three to 12 hours. Coat fid
dleheads and let dry 10 minutes. Im
merse in deep fat heated to between
350 degrees and 375 degrees. Cook un
til golden. Drain thoroughly and
serve imediately. Serve with lightly
sauced, baked fish or filled omelets.
i Doctor discusses reasons for infertility
DURHAM, NC? As more couples
' postpone having children until their
\ 30s, an increasing number experi
ence a frustrating and stressful prob
lem?infertility. In the U.S., it affects
an estimated one in six couples.
"Over the past decade, there's been a
30 percent increase in the number of
couples with infertility problems,"
said Dr, A.F. Haney, an associate
' professor of obstetrics and gyneco
' logy and chief of the division of repro
' ductive endocrinology and infertility
at Duke University Medical Center.
There are many myths about infer
' tility: it's a "female problem;" it's
primarily a psycological, not physi
' cal problem; many couples who
adopt a child conceive soon after.
"Actually, female infertility is a fac
tor about 70 percent of couples and
combined problems in about 10 per
cent," Haney said. Only a small per
centage of couples have no apparent
physical reasons for their inability to
conceive. And the frequency of preg
nancy among couples who adopt is no
higher than those who do not.
In general, couples are encouraged
to seek medical advice after they
have tried to conceive a child for a
year. That time period may be
shorter if there's a history of prob
lems that might cause infertility.
In a recent issue of "Duke Health
Line," Haney cited the most common
causes of female-factor infertility
and their frequencies.
Tubal Problems (25 percent).
Blocked fallopian tubes can result
from inflammation in the pelvic re
gion. Endometriosis often produces
scarring and adhesions around the
tubes, as do pelvic infections caused
by intraterine devices (IUDs) and
sexually transmitted diseases (cyla
mydial and gonorrheal infections are
the most common).
Ovulation Problems (20 percent).
Long-term anovulation (failure to
ovulate) is usually the result of a hor
monal imbalance. Although they are
rare, tumors of the pituitary gland
also can cause infertility.
I BURGLAR ALARM
FREE SURVEY BY FORMER
PWVATH.Y FUNDED ALARM PROGRAM
Op?n Enrollment til May 15, 1987
Kill D?vll Hills, N.C.
N.E. N. CAROLINA
SECURITY SYSTEMS, I\C. 232-2828
Pictured above is Billy Elliott and Lewis Thorton who is the
area salesman with Funks. Mr. Elliott won this county's
Funks corn yield cc ntest. Mr. Elliott planted 4522 seed, and it
yielded 183.1 bushels to the acre.
Extension homemakers news
By PAIGE L. UNDERWOOD
& JUANITA T. BAILEY
Home Econ. Exten. Agents
April have been very busy months.
A lot of nice things hae been taking
place, and many more events are
Of course, the District Activity Day
for Northeastern Extension Home
makers is right around the corner.
The "Big Day" wil be held at South
western Elementary School, High
way 308 in Windsor. Crafts for Dis
trict judging should have been
already been submitted to the Per
quimans County Office to beat the
Tuesday, April 21st deadline. Perqui
mans County should be represented
since we have many talented crafts
men. Emily Harrell, Cultural Arts
^nairman. urges eacn ciuu 10 ue rep
resented with at least one craft entry.
Council to met
Perquimans County Extension
Homemakers Council will be held on
Thursday, April 30, at 2:00 p.m. at
the Perquimans County Extension
Legislatively Day? Raleigh, N.C.
Wednesday, May 20? Transporta
tion? District Bus? $15.00 Lunch and
Registration $15.00. Or we could car
pool and defray gas cost. Homemak
ers will have the opportunity to share
legislative concerns without repesen
tatives. Call 426-7697 if interested.
Deadlines? May 2nd, to register.
National Extension Homemakers
Week is May 4-9. Our Extension
Homemakers will celebrate the 67th
Anniversary of their organization.
Watch for plans and events. Also, the
District Craft Workshop is scheduled
for Tueasday and Wednesday, May 5
and 6 in Elizabeth City.
May 28? Quick Point (Needlepoint
on plastic canvas)? will make
Christmas Ornaments like those dis
played by Midge Stuller at the 1966
Christmas Open House. Instructor?
Madge Stuller? Class size? limited
to 12? Cost? small cost for supplies.
Call 426-7697 to register.
Country Painting Workshop on
May 13 and 14? Perquimans County
Extension Office Building Wednes
day, you will make 2 wooden items.
Thursday, you will paint on fabric.
All supplies, paints, etc. will be fur
nished for a cost of $10.00.
Bring: Paper towels or "Wet
Ones" (very good for removing paint
and mess). Also, a line brush if you
have one (not necessary as Catherine
will have brushes for you to borrow).
Class limit: 12. Call 426-7697 to regis
Tips on Eggs and Cholesterol
New research concludes that peo
ple need not worry about what foods
they eat as long as they maintain a
normal weight and try to keep every
thing in moderation.
Current health wisdom holds that
people should minimize consumption
of fats in general and of cholesterol.
Cholesterol is found in egg yolks.
That has caused many people to stay
away from eggs and has hurt the egg
industry, most producers feel.
Recently, a study of 70 people at
the University of Missouri-Columbia
School of Medicine found that high
cholesterol diets did not necessarily
result in subsequent increases in lev
els of blood cholesterol. Margaret
Flynn, a professor of nutrition at the
university, said 85 percent of all
Americans are like the people in the
study and need not worry about Ujt
number of eggs they eat. Even eatiiQ
three eggs a day won't substantially
raise a personn's blood cholesterol
level according to Professor Flynn
who says she has been eating two
eggs a day for most of her 70 years.
Some people who have a genetic
defect may not be so lucky and must
carefully monitor their diets, but
those people should find out early in
life to limit the cholesterol they eat.
In Professor Flynft's study, sony|
people eating three eggs per day
even had lower blood cholesterol lev
els at the end of the study than they
did at the beginning.
That's good news for egg procedu
re.. .and those of us who like eggs. ..if
we can just get the news to the con
Most tax refunds
come on time . . .
But if it's been 10
weeks since you filed
your tax return
and you still haven't
received your refund
check, find out about it.
Call the special phone
number in your tax
forms package and the
IRS Automated Refund
Service can check the
status of your return.
<~=3' NORTH C4K0LIN
rf* farm 03
? ? fin f*m Bwuu M?f*b tr% 1
Lewis B. Evans
Pat Ward Jeff L. Smith
426 5636 426-7401
Church Street Ext.
Hertford, N.C. ^
Sates - Service.
Hertford Motor Co.
US 17 South
Hortford N.C. 'li ,. g 426-3688 . J