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Fiddleheads are the vegetable that announces the advent of spring in Quebec, because they are the first thing to sprout up in the month of May. It is actually a young fern rolled up in a tight spiral, which has to be picked before it unfurls and becomes inedible.
When buying fiddleheads, select ferns that are tightly rolled up. They should be firm and green with brown scales. To remove these scales, rub the scrolls in cold water, wash under running water and soak for 10 minutes. Since they contain a natural toxin that disappears on cooking, fiddleheads must be cooked well before consumption: they can either be blanched or steamed for about 8 to 10 minutes.
Trivia: American Indian women consumed fiddleheads after giving birth, because of their vitamins and minerals. As for their grandmothers – they used to use it as a vermifuge and tonic.