Bracken fern (warabi)
Bracken tastes wonderful, like asparagus, almonds and Tuscan black kale all rolled into one. Often eaten in Japan, Korea, and China, you need to blanch them first.
HOW TO PREPARE / BLANCH THEM
You can get rid of the astringency by boiling the bracken fern in a pot of hot water and baking soda. PLEASE ALWAYS DO THIS BEFORE CONSUMING. Once this is done, you can store it in water (in a ziplog bag, that's what I use) and keep it in your fridge to use. See recipe here:
I often just cut them up and put ponzu sauce and bonito, or just cut them up and add them to my bowl of soba noodles.
But you should know that there is a mild poison in the mature specimens of the genus Pteridium. And, were you to eat 24 pounds of adult bracken a day for 30 consecutive days, you might have some problems. Even if you were tempted to indulge in such a bovine orgy, however, you could avoid disaster by not eating the fully developed leaves that contain the toxic matter. New, leafless shoots are safe (although these should be cooked to break down the enzyme thiaminase, which destroys vitamin B1 and could—again, if great quantities were eaten—lead to a B1 deficiency).
- Avoid overindulgence in bracken fern products.
- Proper processing and preparation is essential in order to reduce the level of harmful chemicals in bracken fern. For example, boil the fiddleheads in large amount of boiling water for 15 minutes or steam the fiddleheads for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender and discard the water before further cooking can help to lower the level of water soluble toxic chemicals in the fiddleheads.
- The public is advised to maintain a balanced diet so as to avoid excessive exposure to natural toxins and contaminants in general from a small range of food items.
Bracken Fern (Pteridium aquilinum) is used for rheumatism, weak blood, uterine prolapse, suffering after birth, caked breast, weakness, headaches, make good blood after menses or childbirth, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, infections, and stomach cramps.