|These are the ones that grow in|
my garden--you can see why
they call them fiddleheads
I don’t do a lot of pickling (although my jelly-making skills are improving), so I don’t have a row of cookbooks to tell me what to do. So I went looking online.
I found it funny that the recipes I found were pretty much along classic pickling lines—you know, sterilize your mason jars, seal them right, et cetera. (You can skip that part and just keep them refrigerated—but not for too long—if you plan to use them soon.) If you go through the traditional process, they’ll keep for up to a year, in case you get a craving for a taste of spring next winter. One more point: let the pickled ferns, sealed or refrigerated, mellow for, variously, a week, two weeks, or up to six weeks before you eat them. Whenever you do open the jar, keep it refrigerated after.
PICKLED FIDDLEHEAD FERNS
1/2 pound fiddlehead ferns (just the tips)
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp dill seeds
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
2 allspice berries
1 garlic clove, smashed
This was one version. Other versions called for a sprig of thyme or a piece of lemon peel. Yet another version wanted a whole lot of sugar. I’ve never been a fan of sweet pickles, but your tastes may differ. You can decide what sounds good to you.
[If you’re going to be a purist, prepare your jars. I have no clue how that works.]
In a small saucepan, combine the water, 1/2 tsp salt, garlic, and whatever herbs and spices you are using, and bring it to a boil. Take it off the heat, add the vinegar, and let it steep for an hour.
Put your ferns into a large bowl of cold water and wash them well. Trim off any brown parts, and cut off the woody ends. Drain them in a colander.
|They're still green!|
When you’re ready to “jar,” pack the fiddleheads into a pint jar (I didn’t have a pint jar, so I used two half-pint jars), with a bit of room left at the top. Reheat the pickling liquid to boiling, then pour it over the fiddleheads. Screw on the top, and let cool.
Serve them as a complement to meat or chicken—maybe the first time to use the barbecue this year? Add them to your first salad greens? Or use them when you want a brief taste of spring.