May Day and Fiddlehead Ferns

Welcome May!

It poured most of the day, so no May Pole or Morris Dancers this year, although we often celebrate the day even in the rain if its a gentle one!

May Day

Sometimes we get lucky and May Day is a beautiful sunny day –– not always!

May still happens. The rain this week is coaxing little leaf sprouts on the trees and shrubs, and our spring bulbs are making a lovely display.

Farm stands now open!

Our celebration today was the seasonal opening of the farm stands, with lots of special protections in place, but even so it was great to see people from a distance, and find little treasures.

Local treasurers

My new treasurers were fiddleheads and asparagus. I had been craving the fiddleheads! I prepped them and will make them tomorrow while I dream up a dish, although my favorite way to eat them is lightly sautéed with a little salt and pepper and garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice. They can be used in any dish where you would use asparagus, from soup to sautéed, tarts to frittatas!

A foragers delight

If you are not familiar with these funny little things, they are the tightly coiled sprout of the ostrich fern, and resemble asparagus in taste and texture. A native Northern treasure, I have foraged for these since I was a child. My Uncle Leonard taught me to find and harvest them along with many other wild treasurers. At this time of year, we might also find wild morel mushrooms as well, one of my favorites still, and they taste delicious with the fiddleheads. The morels are often hard to spot, looking like a piece of bark or stick, frustrating if you are a child.

Foraging for Morels with Uncle Leonard

Look over there, under that apple tree.

Where? I only see leaves and bark.

That’s because you are looking too hard.

After prepping, the fiddleheads will be ready for any number of recipes. Think of them as blanched asparagus.

You do have to cook them correctly, or fiddleheads will taste like rancid dirt, which is why many people think they don’t like them. Here is my previous post one how to prepare them: Preparing Fiddlehead Ferns.

And one of my favorite recipes for May Day, Rainbow Ribbon Salad with fiddleheads!


And just because I miss the merriment of it all, here is a clip from previous year’s May Day celebrations, all in the rain!

The rains didn’t stop this dance!

May Pole Dance May 1, 2016. Getting organized in the rain!


When we dance in the rain, we might have fewer folks to weave the ribbons, but it is still great fun for young and old!

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  1. Never had fiddlehead ferns nor have I have heard of these! Something new I learnt! One day maybe when i am that way I’ll have to seek them out 😊

    1. Just be sure to time your visit from mid-April to mid-May! They are fleeting things!

  2. Ally Bean says:

    I’ve read of fiddle head ferns, but never eaten one to my knowledge. I’ve never danced around a May Day pole. I’ve lead a sheltered life, haven’t I?

    1. Just crazy New Englanders way of unwinding after a long winter!

  3. Pastor Cathy says:

    May Day and Fiddlehead Ferns

  4. Pastor Cathy says: Pastor Cathy Native

    On Fri, May 1, 2020 at 3:34 PM The New Vintage Kitchen wrote:

    > Dorothy’s New Vintage Kitchen posted: “Welcome May! It rained most of the > day, so no May Pole or Morris Dancers this year, although we often > celebrate the day even in the rain! May still happens. The rain this week > is coaxing little leaf sprouts on the trees and shrubs, and our spring > bulbs a” >

  5. Kitty Jade says:

    Not celebrated May Day in its fullest since primary school when we put up the May Pole and everyone complicated the ribbons 🤣

    1. We often make a mess of the ribbons, but that is the fun of it all too!

      1. Kitty Jade says:

        I guess so 😆

  6. I didn’t realise May Day is celebrated in New England. I grew up in Ohio and it wasn’t a thing until I moved to Ireland. Now I love celebrating the occasion! I wrote a post about it yesterday. Happy Bealtaine to you and yours!🌸

    As for fiddlehead ferns, that’s completely new to me! I will have to find out if they grow here and where we can find them. My partner is a nature expert so I pictured him when you wrote about your uncle.😊

    1. May Day is quite popular in southern Vermont and New Hampshire and other areas in New England. There are always Morris Dancers about, often when you don’t even expect them. Years ago, my daughter was a practiced dancer with her school’s troupe, and she loved it. I confess to tiring of the bells when she was practicing.
      As for the fiddleheads in your area, check with your extension agent or google it for your state.

  7. chef mimi says:

    What a great post! That is a beautiful bowl of fern babies! I lived in Seattle for a few years growing up, and I’m surprised my mother never cooked with them. What a treat they must be!

    1. They are delicious indeed!

  8. I have never had Fiddlehead Ferns, but if they taste like asparagus, sign me up! Your childhood memories are delightful, happy May Dorothy!

  9. I am so ready for the Farmers Markets. 🥬🥕🥦🥒🍎

    1. Me too! Ours open later this month with restrictions, can’t wait to see how it all goes, but we are marvelously adaptable!

      1. Right now we can only order online from them. I haven’t tried that out. 🌿

      2. I’m told there will be a lot of pre-ordering involved in the farmers markets here as well and it will certainly be different, not as much of a social experience, obviously, but I’m sure they will make it work the best that can be.

      3. Getting to know the growers is key. 🗝

  10. Fiddleheads are one of those foods that is not only good but pretty. 🙂

    1. And good for you too! I crave them every year!

  11. Karen says:

    Maypoles and fiddlehead ferns, yes New England does have some special things to celebrate that others don’t get to share in.

    1. We are lucky indeed!

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