Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns


 Fiddlehead season is short, try to make the most our of it. Now that you have collected all those fiddleheads you might want to find more ways to eat them. Sautéing in butter is great, but eating that day after day will give you a tummy ache.

To preserve you fiddleheads for later use you have two options. Freezing or Canning.  I have tried neither, yet….

The first one I want to try is pickled fiddleheads.  You can pickle just about anything, watermelon rind, ferns, okra, eggs! Even pigs feet!

I don’t go for the pickled proteins. I’m sure they are, uuhhh, good. But not for me. Being from the land of pickle it or fry it (or both, ever had fried pickles?), I was surprised that I had never seen pickled fiddleheads so that is what I opted for.  I thought about how we would be eating burgers with fern pickles this summer, I can’t wait!

After perusing a few pickle recipes I decided to give this one a try. It’s similar to my mother’s refrigerator pickles and good for two pint sized jars.

Refer. Pickled Fiddleheads

  •  4-5 cups of fiddleheads cleaned

If desired, blanch fiddleheads before pickling. This will make them softer and ease any concerns about them being too raw.

Pack prepared fiddleheads into jar leaving 1/2″ headspace.

To make the pickle brine heat together:

  • 2 cups vinegar (I used cider, because it’s my favorite but would also recommend rice vinegar)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2Tb salt
  • 1tsp black peppercorns
  • 1tsp dill seed or 2-3 fresh springs
  • 1/2tsp onion seed (optional)

When sugar is dissolved, pour brine into jars over fiddleheads.  Jiggle gently so that the liquid settles. Top off with more brine.  Let jars cool a bit and place open jars in the back of the fridge.  When cool, secure lids and gently shake or turn the jar. Continue to agitate the pickles once a day for a couple of weeks. They longer they set the more pickled they become.  If you eat them in the first week, they are simply marinated fiddleheads and will go well in salads.  If you can handle the wait, give them 2-4 weeks before chowing down on the pickles.

Pickling is a relatively simple process. I choose to go even easier by making refrigerator pickles.  These pickles will keep open in the fridge for as long as it takes you to eat them. If you haven’t eaten all the pickles by the time you are ready to forage again next spring, toss the old ones.

Happy Hunting!