Fiddlehead ferns are a fleeting spring delicacy. Found primarily in the wild, they are the fresh growth that appears at the top of a fern frond. The finished pickles are good served with poached eggs and toast, with runny cheeses, or alongside any rich bit of meat or pate.
About the author: Marisa McClellan is a food writer, canning teacher, and dedicated pickler who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her jams, pickles and preserves (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first book, also called Food in Jars, will be published by Running Press in May 2012.
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- Yield:makes 1 pint
- Active time: 45 minutes
- Total time:1 week
- 1/2 pound fiddlehead ferns
- Kosher salt
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon dill seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 allspice berries
- 1 garlic clove, smashed
Place fiddlehead ferns in a large bowl of cold water and wash well. Rub away any brown chaff and trim cut ends.
Add two tablespoons of salt to two quarts of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add fiddlehead ferns and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Combine vinegar, 1/2 cup water, and 1 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Place spices and garlic cloves into the bottom of a prepared pint jar. Pack fiddlehead ferns into the jar and add hot pickling liquid to cover.
Wipe rim, apply lid and ring and process in a small boiling water bath canner for 10 minutes. Remove jar from canner and let cool on a folded kitchen towel. When jar is cool enough to handle, remove ring and check seal.
Sealed jars can be stored in the pantry for up to one year. Unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly. Let these pickles age for at least a week before eating.