This may come as a surprise, but fiddlehead greens are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world – notably India, Nepali, and many countries in Southeast Asia. They offer a ton of health benefits but can easily induce foodborne illnesses if improperly handled.
So, can you eat fiddleheads while pregnant?
Pregnant women can eat fiddleheads safely, but they need to be washed, cooked, and stored properly. Washing is crucial as the dirt and debris trapped in the husk can be especially stubborn, often necessitating several rounds of rinsing to remove.
Cooking thoroughly is also critical, as food poisoning often leads to nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. These conditions are difficult for pregnant women to handle, so be sure to stringently follow preparation guidelines to avoid this outcome.
You can eat fiddleheads while pregnant, but the preparations needed will be thorough and laborious. If you’re willing to put in the extra effort though, we promise it’s well worth it!
Eating Fiddleheads While Pregnant (Things to Consider)
Health Benefits of Fiddleheads
Fiddleheads are young ferns that are often considered a seasonal delicacy, being prepared in a ton of different ways across the world. They’re also nutritious – rich in potassium, iron, antioxidants, and even omega-3 fatty acids. Fiddleheads also have a ton of fiber, which is always a welcome addition.
So yes, you can absolutely eat fiddleheads while pregnant – and it’ll benefit you and your baby. On a similar note, pregnant women can also safely eat olives, as long as they are mindful of their sodium intake due to the salt content in some preserved varieties.
Avoid Raw or Underdone Fiddleheads
Fiddleheads have been associated with foodborne outbreaks – most notably E. coli and Listeria. E. coli directly causes diarrhea and vomiting, which indirectly leads to dehydration that can seriously threaten your pregnancy. Listeria is dangerous because pregnant women are about 10 times as vulnerable to this bacteria, and untreated cases usually lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.
While the worst-case risk is high, you can mitigate it with proper precautions. Pregnant women who want to eat fiddleheads are advised to cook thoroughly beforehand – either by steaming them for twelve minutes or boiling them for fifteen. If you’re planning to fry your fiddleheads, make sure to blanch them in hot water for at least three minutes.
Fiddlehead Food Prep and Storage
When washing fiddleheads, you always want to use cold water. Cold water keeps the vegetable crisp and fresh and also has the added boon of persevering as many nutrients as possible. The vegetable also firms up, making it much easier to dislodge unwanted detritus.
Be sure to repeat this washing process over multiple rounds. Stop only when the water runs clear, then pat your fiddlehead greens dry with a clean paper towel. Now, you can start stripping off the papery husks – the water should make it easier to tear off. They should be ready to cook now.
Even if you’re planning to cook them differently, always blanch fiddleheads in hot water first. Blanching not only improves their taste and texture but makes them much easier to cook evenly!
It’s best to store fiddleheads in your fridge for easy access and decent shelf life, but you might also opt to stick them in a freezer if you want them to last a few more months.
Do remember that you shouldn’t refreeze thawed-out fiddleheads. At best, their quality, nutritional value, and taste would suffer, and at worst your fiddleheads may pick up bacterial contamination. Only defrost what you plan on finishing within the next couple of days.
Washing the dirt off the husk may take a while, but fiddleheads are versatile vegetables that can be boiled, steamed, fried, and cooked in any way you see fit.
You’re more than welcome to eat fiddleheads while pregnant – these greens offer a ton of nutritional value for your pregnancy needs.