The Herbal Bear - Newsletters

The Herbal Bear School of Botanical Medicine

April 2011 Newsletter


In this issue

  • Fiddleheads - A Wild Edible
  • Fiddleheads with Angle Hair Pasta
  • The Herbal Bear Classes
  • The 2011 Botanical Medicine Program 

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fiddlehead-fern1Fiddleheads - A Wild Spring Edible
Matteuccia struthiopteris

Fiddleheads or Fiddlehead greens are the unfurled fronds of a young fern, harvested for use as a vegetable. The fiddlehead resembles the curled ornamentation (called a scroll) on the end of a stringed instrument, such as a violin. Alhough available regionally in some supermarkets and restaurants, fiddleheads are not cultivated and are only available seasonally.


Fiddleheads are harvested  in early spring. Each plant produces seven tops that turn into fronds. When picking fiddleheads, take at most three tops per plant as over-picking will kill the plant.

Fiddleheads contain various vitamins and minerals, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They are a source of antioxidants and dietary fiber.  They are low in sodium, but rich in potassium, which may make them suitable for people who need a low-sodium diet. In selecting fiddleheads, look for a tight coil and only an inch or two of stem beyond the coil. The outside of the coil should have an intricate pattern of tiny leaves arranged along the sides of the spiral. Size of the coil should be 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. Larger size is acceptable as long as they are tightly coiled.There is a brown papery chaff that surrounds the fiddlehead on the plant. Much of this will have been removed prior to purchase, but some may remain. You can soak the fiddleheads in cool water for a minute or two and then gently rub the chaff off with your fingers prior to cooking.

Good fiddleheads have a distinctly crisp texture, both raw and after brief cooking. Fiddleheads are versatile and easy to use. They have a mild taste reminiscent of Asparagus with an added nutty bite all their own. They are excellent marinated in vinegar and oil or as a crunchy pickle. As a featured vegetable they will please the most demanding palate. Fiddleheads can be used in similar ways to any firm green vegetable such as Asparagus or Broccoli florets. Fiddleheads have a delicious flavor and provide an elegant visual appeal to many familiar dishes. Use them as a perfect featured vegetable in a simple stir-fry.


Fiddlehead Ferns and Angel Hair Pasta

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2005

1 pound fiddlehead ferns
1 pound angel hair pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon truffle oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Grated Parmesan, for garnish

In a large pot of boiling salted water, blanch the fiddleheads until they are crisp-tender, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the fiddleheads from the water and shock them in a bowl of ice water (unless you aregoing to use them immediately).

Drop angel hair pasta into the same pot of boiling water used for fiddleheads. Boil for 3 to 5 minutes or until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil. Saute fiddlehead ferns, green onions, and red pepper flakes for 2 minutes. Drain pasta and add to skillet. Toss with truffle oil and salt and pepper. Divide pasta among 4 plates and garnish with grated cheese.


Upcoming Classes:

The following classes are listed by program dates. To view classes listed by location please see our programs page. To view a full description of the class or to register on line for any class please click on the individual class.

  • Herbal Spa Workshop: A Natural Approach to Beautiful Skin - Saturday, April 23, 2011; 1:30pm - 3:30pm Grand Gorge, NY
  • Herbal Soap Making - Friday, April 29, 2011; 6:30pm - 8:30pm NYC
  • An Introduction to Herbal Medicine - Friday, May 6, 2011 NYC
  • A Weed Walk in Central Park - Saturday, May 14, 2011 NYC
  • Herbal Soap Making - Saturday, June 11, 2011; 4:30pm - 6:30pm Grand Gorge, NY


    We are currently accepting applications for the 2011 Botanical Medicine Program.

    Our Early-Bird Registration discount has been extended to April 30th 2011!

    2011 Botanical Medicine Program
    A six weekend intensive program for those interested in a well rounded education in herbal studies. This class is designed to give  students a solid foundation in herbalism.  Each class we will learn about herbs for the different systems including: the digestive, nervous, cardiac, reproductive, and immune system.  Students will learn plant identification, harvesting techniques, medicinal plant preparations and herbal formula development.   This class is held in the Northern Catskills on a private 30 acre property.  Many of the medicinal plants we study are growing in our gardens or found on our property.  Unlike other herbals classes, this class incorporates field work with the plants.  You will be able to see, study and harvest medicinal plants throughout the entire growing season.  This class is designed for beginning and intermediate herbal students. For a full description of this class - please follow
    this link

    If you have any specific questions about our programs, please feel free to contact us


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