When it comes to foraging, editor Carleen Madigan says it pays to always be prepared.

I think my coworkers here at Storey get tired of listening to me blab about my obsession with foraging. Even though there are two red Corollas in the parking lot, you’ll know mine by the harvest trug and shears in the back seat. I never know when I’ll need to stop and snatch a mushroom (yes, you really can see them from the road as you’re speeding by at 50 miles an hour) or a snip a bunch of wild grapes. This might be why people have stopped carpooling with me. . . .

Fiddleheads in the woods

Last summer it seemed I was always bringing crazy mushrooms in for show-and-tell or force-feeding chokecherry jam to my fellow editors (the name “chokecherry” didn’t earn it many followers, I have to say; I’ve taken to calling it “wild cherry” jam instead). They’ve had a winter break from it all, while everything was covered in snow and ice, but oh, baby — it’s foraging time again!

Once the Juneberries (Amelanchier) start blooming in the Hilltowns, you know it’s time to look for fiddlehead ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris). This year we had a few hot days in a row (right when I was out of town for the weekend!), so they went by very quickly, and I only managed to find a couple of handfuls that weren’t unfurled. As luck would have it, I was out on a walk when I happened upon a patch of them, and I’d left my trug in the car. I started picking anyway, and quickly realized that I’d need a place to stash my cache. Good thing I was wearing my trusty purple hoodie!

Fiddleheads in the hood

Fortunately, there were just enough to improvise an experimental pot of Curried Fiddlehead Paneer with Pine Nut Jasmine Rice. Yum!

Curried Fiddlehead Paneer with Pine Nut Jasmine Rice

Curried Fiddlehead Paneer with Pine Nut Jasmine Rice

Fiddlehead ferns and papery husk

You can always identify fiddlehead ferns by their brown, papery husk and the deep groove in the stem.

Carleen Madigan

Before becoming an editor at Storey Publishing, Carleen Madigan was managing editor of Horticulture magazine and lived on an organic farm outside Boston, Massachusetts, where… See Bio

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