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Vrfurile de ferig
FERIGA. n lume
exist peste 13 mii
de
specii
aparinnd grupului
Pteridophyta.

Datrile pe fosile
ne indic c aceste
plante au aprut n
Carbonifer, o epoc
geologic plasat cu
vreo 360 de mil. de
ani naintea timpu-lui prezent, ns cele mai multe dintre speciile actuale de
ferigi i-au fcut apariia acum 145 de milioane de ani, n Cretacicul
timpuriu, n sine o vrst impresionant. Aceste specii de plante au asistat
la naterea i dispariia dinozaurilor, la impunera mamiferelor n vrful
lanului trofic i la evoluia primatelor de la primii hominizi la homo
sapiens modern.
Ferigile sunt rspndite pe toate continentele i, ca o particularitate, se
nmulesc prin spori, de accea nu dezvolt flori i nici semine.
Vrfurile unor anumite specii de ferig sunt comestibile i se pot consuma
dup ce au fost gtite. Cele mai rspndite specii de ferig comestibile sunt:
feriga pan-de-stru (spata-dracului sau struiorul), Matteuccia
struthiopteris
feriga-de-cmp (olul-lupului), Pteridium aquilinum
feriga-regal (feriga-paniculat), Osmunda regalis
feriga-comun, Dryopteris filix-mas
Ferigile sunt plante care apar n flora spontan primvara, ca plante de sezon,
nu au fost domesticite de ctre oameni i nu sunt nicieri cultivate. Datorit
acestui lucru i pentru c sunt necesare cunotine clare ca s fie culese,
vrfurile de ferig sunt considerate o delicates cu un pre destul de ridicat
n pieele din Occident. Preul unui pound de fiddleheads, cum sunt ele
numite n rile de limb englez, ajungea sptmna trecut la 12 $, n Union
Square Market, una dintre cele mai versatile i cosmopolite piee din New
York, unde sunt comercializate multe plante neobinuite. Acest lucru nu
mpiec multe restaurante rafinate s i treac n meniul lunii mari reete
cu fiddleheads.

Prile comestibile sunt vrfurile spiralate ale frunzelor, care se culeg nainte
s se desfac. O plant dezvolt 7 frunze ce pot crete pn la 1 m n nlime,
se recomand culegerea a doar 3 vrfuri, astfel ca planta s nu fie expus
riscului de-a muri. Acest lucru este important pentru meninerea populaiilor
de ferigi, avnd n vedere faptul c ele nu sunt susinute de industria agrar.
Consumul acestor
vrfuri este rspndit pe tot globul i
face parte din tradiiile culinare ale
multor regiuni. n
Indonezia sunt gtite
n lapte de cocos cu
ardei iute i iarblmioas i se numesc gulai-paku.
n Japonia feriga-stru este numitkogomi, n China i Taiwan juci, iar n
Coreea gosari. Metodele preferate de asiatici sunt sotarea, prjirea, fierberea,
sau murarea vrfurilor de ferig.
n Himalaya feriga are, de asemenea, diferite nume: lingri n Valea Kullu,
lungdun Valea Kangra, ningro n Nepal i dhekia xaak n Assam. Este o
garnitur foarte apreciat, servit uneori cu brnz local. Se pstreaz pe
termen mai lung sub form murat.
Pe continentul american, n Canada i Statele Unite, fiddleheads sunt considerate delicatese i primvara se gsesc de cumprat chiar i n unele
super-marketuri. Exist companii care le export proaspete sau congelate.
n vederea preparrii, vrfurile de ferig trebuiesc curate de pielia galbenmaronie, care n cele mai multe cazuri se cur uor cu mn, apoi se pun
la fiert n dou ape. Prima ap se schimb dup 10 minute pentru ca taninii
care i-ar da un gust amrui, toxinele uoare i eventualii parazii ce i-ar
putea gsi cas n spirala strns s fie eliminate. Se pun din nou la fiert n
ap curat i se dau n clocot. Dup aceea pot fi adugate la diferite preparate.
Pe internet exist zeci de reete minunate care v pot strni imaginaia.
Tratamentul termic este necesar pentru c ferigile crude conin o enzim
numit thiaminas, care dispare odat ce este expus la caldura focului sau
prin uscarea n soare. Aceast enzim desface vitamina B1 n dou molecule
separate, ceea ce duce la pierderea ei din organism. De aceea consumul excesiv
de ferig nu este recomandat. ns aceasta a fost o problem mai degrab
pentru predecesorii notri, care se bazau exclusiv pe plantele sezoniere

locale nu cred c am putea avea problema aceasta n timpurile moderne,


cnd posibilitile alimentare sunt infinit mai largi.
Gtite, vrfurile de ferig pot fi o surs bogat de omega-3, omega-6, potasiu,
fier i fibre. Au i proprieti antioxidante. Pot fi preparate n moduri similare
sparanghelului i au un gust asemntor cu acesta.
Exist i unele indicii c anumite ferigi din genul Pteridium ar avea
compui carciogenici, ns feriga-stru pe care o voi detalia mai jos nu
conine astfel de toxine. n rest, nici o ferig cunoscut nu este cu adevrat
otrvitoare.
Feriga pan-destru, Matteuccia
struthiopteris, n
Valea Strmbei,
ara
Fgraului.
Feriga
pan-destru, Matteuccia
struthiopteris, se
poate ntlni n
multe zone din
Romnia. Eu am gsit-o la nceputul lunii mai n Valea Strmbei, din ara
Fgraului, unde formeaz colonii dense de plante cu aspect aproape
extraterestru. Numele struthiopteris vine din greaca veche i nseamn
pan-de-stru. Este o plant nativ pe toate continentele din emisfera
nordic, unde prefer malurile rurilor din zonele montane i deluroase,
bancurile nisipoase, zonele umbroase i umede.
Rdcina plantei este un rizom care trimite stoloni laterali ce formeaz alte
plante. Acest rizom a fost folosit n medicina tradiional ca tratament
extrem de eficace mpotriva paraziilor intestinali.
Feriga-stru este i o frumoas plant ornamental care a primit Award of
Garden Merit de la Royal Horticultural Society.

Surse:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiddlehead_fern
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matteuccia_struthiopteris
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fern
i-medic.ro/plante/spata-dracului-matteuccia-struthiopteris
umaine.edu/publications/4198e/
wikihow.com/Cook-Fiddleheads

Bracken Fern: Food or Poison?


I eat a known carcinogen every spring. But then again, chances are, so do you.
Few wild plants are as
polarizing
as
bracken
fern,Pteridium aquilinum.
It is a global species, living
everywhere
but
the
harshest deserts and the
coldest tundra. Here in
California, it is ubiquitous.
I find its fiddleheads
odd looking fiddleheads,
like an eagles clenched
talon in Point Reyes as
early as late February and
as late as mid-June in the High Sierra.
That means if you wanted, you could eat bracken fern
fiddleheads for four straight months here in
California. You could, but you shouldnt.
Bracken fern does indeed contains carcinogens, that
much is clear. Ive been spending a lot of time in the
past week reading scientific papers with names like
Induction of Tumors in ACI Rats Given a Diet
Containing Ptalquiloside, a Bracken Carcinogen.
Breezy reading, this. But the slog has been worth it, if
only because I refuse to trust the internet and my
fellow foraging writers outright. Bracken is so
controversial you will see them writing statements
ranging from eat it as much as you want, its fine, to never, ever, ever eat
bracken, raw or cooked.
And like most black-and-white statements, both are wrong.
After a pretty exhaustive and exhausting survey of the literature, it
seems pretty clear that a typical foragers diet of bracken fiddleheads,
blanched and sauteed with lots of butter (or whatever) is perfectly safe.
Before you start shouting at me, let me explain.
The primary villain lurking within bracken fern is a substance called
ptalquiloside. It is, by all accounts, nasty stuff. And bracken fiddleheads are

packed with it, up to 0.8 percent by dry weight, according to some studies.
But therein lies the first caveat: A raft of other studies shows that
ptalquiloside levels vary wildly in bracken stands. Some in New Zealand
were even found with none of the stuff at all. So you really have no idea how
much if any of the carcinogen lies within your pretty fiddlehead.
It is abundantly clear, however, that if you eat raw bracken fiddleheads in
the woods you will probably ingest ptalquiloside. And thats not good eats.
But ptalquiloside has two properties that are of interest to us:

First, it is water soluble. That means if you soak bracken fiddleheads in


cool water (cool to keep them crunchy), and change that water every so
often, you will greatly reduce the level of ptalquiloside in the
fiddlehead; the Japanese often eat bracken this way.

Second, ptalquiloside is notoriously volatile at normal temperatures.


The pure stuff degenerates at room temperature, which is why the
scientists doing the rat studies store their palquiloside at -20 degrees
Celsius. Once exposed to boiling temperatures, the carcinogen
denatures almost completely. Salt and baking soda increase this effect.

What this means is that a very normal cooking process for fiddleheads
blanching in salty water, then shocking in ice water, then sauteeing
renders the fiddlehead close to harmless.
Note that I say close to
harmless. The reason we
know that bracken can cause
cancer is not only because
of all sorts of livestock
studies cows sometimes
eat the fully grown fronds
and get urinary tract cancers
but also because bracken
is widely eaten in Korea,
Japan and parts of China.
And when I mean widely,
I mean almost every day in some cases. Bracken (gosari) is a classic part of
bibimbap, one of the most famous Korean dishes there is.
Indeed, my friend and fellow forager Langdon Cook likes to eat his bracken
Asian style.
Most of the research has been done by Japanese and Koreans, searching for
clues as to why they seem to have high rates of throat and stomach cancer.
Apparently there are a kaleidoscope of reasons, and habitual bracken-eating
is among them. Like anything, ptalquilosides poison is in the dose. The

body can process out only so much of the stuff, and constant eating of
bracken puts too much ptalquiloside in the system thats what causes
cancer.
If you do pick your own
bracken fiddleheads, choose
those that are not fully
extended. You want them
either in the horseshoe bend
or at least tightly closed.
Remember, the eagles
talon should be clenched, not
open.
I know what you are saying.
Why even mess with this
crazy bracken thing? Why
even put myself at risk?
Several reasons. First, bracken tastes wonderful, like
asparagus, almonds and Tuscan black kale all rolled
into one. Second, eating bracken is akin to drinking
alcohol: Done responsibly, it is enjoyable and perfectly
safe. But just as you would not rationally decide to
drink a case of beer every day for a month, you would
not rationally choose to eat a big plate of bracken ferns
every day during the fiddlehead season. The
carcinogen is no stronger than that in alcohol, and
many of us drink that every day.
I choose to eat bracken fiddleheads. How often? Maybe
a handful of times a year. Go for it. Eat them once and
you will see what all the fuss is about. Just remember your Aristotle: All
Things in Moderation.
Bracken Fiddleheads with
Butter
Bracken fern is as good to
eat as it is beautiful, but you
need to take some special
steps in cooking it to diminish
its harmful properties. Once
you do this, it is best to just
simply cook these pretty
things and enjoy their
flavor,
which
is
a

combination of asparagus, almonds and kale. Truffle butter seemed like a


natural choice as a flavoring regular butter and truffle salt is a good
alternative. No truffle products? Just use the best butter you can afford and
a nice fleur de sel. Splurge! After all, you should only eat bracken a few
times a year, so enjoy it!
Serves 2.
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 5 minutes
3/4 to 1 pound young bracken fiddleheads
Salt
3 tablespoons truffle butter
1. Trim the bracken fiddleheads to an even length. Bring a large pot of
water to a boil and add enough salt to make it taste like the sea. Fill a
large bowl with ice water. Boil the bracken for 2 minutes, then plunge
into the ice water. let them sit in the water for 45 minutes. Pat dry.
2. Heat half the truffle butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
Saute the fiddleheads for 4-5 minutes, flipping them from time to time.
Sprinkle some salt over them. Turn off the heat and add the remaining
butter. Swirl to coat the fiddleheads with the butter as it melts. Eat at once.
More Recipes For Foraged Foods

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