A couple years ago I shared my basic method for pickled fiddleheads- a savory pickle using salt as opposed to sugar. I’d be doing you a disservice if I didn’t share some variations though, so here’s another favorite of mine: bread and butters.
It’s pretty much as easy as it sounds. All I did was adapt my favorite recipe for bread and butter pickles for fiddleheads, (I use the ostrich fern Matteuccia struthiopteris) the only real change from the classic cucumber pickle being fiddleheads need to be blanched before pickling to leech them of the swampy looking detritus the give off if you pickle them from raw.
They’re great straight out of the jar, tossed in a salad, or with a plate of cured meats and cheese, which is how I served them most recently at Piney Hill Farm in Wisconsin for the Slow Food Minnesot “Where The Wild Things Are” 2016 Dinner.
Bread and Butter Fiddlehead Pickles
- 3 cups cider vinegar
- 3 cups water
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 2.5 lbs fiddlehead ferns washed and cleaned to remove the brown husk
- 1/8 cup kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons toasted celery seed
- 1/2 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons whole white peppercorns
- 1/8 cup yellow mustard seeds
- 1 small yellow sweet onion peeled and sliced very thin.
- 1.5 gal water for blanching the fiddleheads
- Toast the spices, then add them and the vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Add the sliced onions and bring the mixture to a boil, then allow to cool, uncovered.
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil then add the fiddleheads and blanch for 1.5 minutes. Remove the fiddleheads to a cold water bath immediately to stop cooking. Drain the fiddleheads well.
- Afterwords, add the fiddleheads to the pickling liquid, weight down with a plate to keep them under the liquid and reserve until needed. The pickles will keep in the fridge until next season if they’re in a container with a tight fitting lid, always weighted down to keep them under the liquid. There should be as little air as possible too in the container, since any excess air can cause exposed fiddleheads to mold.
- For long term storage, remove the onions from the cooled liquid, then mix with the fiddleheads and pack into pint canning jars ¾ full. Bring the pickling liquid back to a boil, then fill the jars up to the line on the top of each jar, seal tightly and turn upside down to cool and seal. The pickles can also be processed for 10-15 minutes in a water batch canner, but will yield a less crisp result.