Yield: 4 pint jars, I like the Ball wide-mouth style
Keyword: Fiddlehead ferns, Fiddlehead pickles
2-2.5lbsof the youngesttightest fiddlehead ferns you can find
2cupsvinegarlike apple cider, white, or white wine/champagne vinegar
4-5small cloves of garliclightly crushed
1-2sprigs of fresh dill or your favorite herb per jar
A 1inch peel of lemon zest for each jar
1.5gallonswater for blanching the ferns
Bring the 4 cups water, salt, lemon zest, garlic, and thyme to a boil, allow to sit for 5 minutes, then add the vinegar.
Bring the 1.5 gallons of water to a rolling boil. Add the fiddlehead ferns to the pot, then cook for exactly 1.5 minutes (90 seconds) covering the pot to increase the heat, stirring the fiddles occasionally to ensure even blanching. Immediately remove the fiddleheads to cold water to stop their cooking.
When the fiddleheads are cool, remove them and drain very well in a colander, pressing on them lightly to remove any excess water. (You don't want them to absorb water and dilute your pickle liquid).
Let the fiddleheads come to room temp for a while, about an hour or so, to make sure they don't cool down the pickling liquid too fast.
Pack a pint jar full of fiddleheads, placing a piece of lemon zest, a clove of garlic, and a sprig of thyme in each jar (or whatever flavorings you're using). Reheat the pickle liquid to rolling boil, and pour into the jars, covering all of the fiddleheads, up to the very top of the jar. Screw on the lids and and turn the jars upside down. Leave the jars to cool, for a few hours like this.
After the jars are completely cool, inspect the jars, you will find they have formed hermetic seals, just as if you were to use a water bath canner, but without the excess heat and time that would make them soft. Voila! Crisp pickled fiddleheads. Look over the jars carefully to make sure they've all formed seals. Refrigerate any that haven't sealed.
Make your own seasoning blendsThe seasonings are optional here, all that really matters is the water and vinegar, note there is no sugar in the recipe, either.