Fiddleheads and Rhubarb: Maine for May

By: Kathy Savoie, UMaine Extension Educator

University of Maine Cooperative Extension publishes information to help you find, grow, use, preserve and store in-season fruits and vegetables in Maine. Visit to order or download bulletins to fit the season, including May favorites such as Bulletin # 4198 Facts on Fiddleheads, Bulletin #4060 Facts on Edible Wild Greens in Maine, and Bulletin # 4266 Fruits for Health: Rhubarb.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has investigated a number of outbreaks of food-borne illness associated with fiddleheads. The implicated ferns were eaten either raw or lightly cooked (sautéed, parboiled or microwaved).   The findings of this investigation recommend that you should cook fiddleheads thoroughly before eating (boil them for at least 15 minutes or steam for 10 – 12).

UMaine Extension educator Kathy Savoie recommends getting up-to-date information on the best methods, canners, jars and seals to use to ensure a safe result before preserving food. Recommendations are available from local UMaine Extension offices and online at UMaine Extension: Food & Health, including upcoming food preservation workshops and how-to videos. For more information, call 207.581.3188; 800.287.0274 (in Maine).