Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pickled Fiddleheads

Bo! Drunkard! It's fall and I'm already yearning for early spring and picking fiddleheads before they grow into big, beautiful ferns *sigh* at least we can make big plans for when that time comes. The first week of May was when the fiddleheads were just right for picking and pickling. I spent a couple of lunch breaks and a few hours after work that week picking bags full of the pretty little green friends as this was my first year knowing what to do with fiddleheads and I had no idea what was involved in prepping them! Turns out it's a major PIA to clean the brown skin-like stuff off of them and I spent as much time cleaning them as I did picking them (seriously, con a friend into helping with that part) but I have no problem guaranteeing that all of the effort is
totally worth it.

Lookit how stinking pretty fiddleheads are!
I spent a lot of time trying to find a simple recipe for pickling and canning my haul and surprisingly to me found a great recipe on the State of Alaska WIC website which goes something like this (with a few changes added by me):

  • Fiddleheads, Raw- about a gallon bag full
  • Garlic, Raw -8ish cloves
  • Shallots, 2 or 3 (I had some laying around and wanted to pickle them)
  • Dill Weed, about a cup fresh from my garden
  • Variety of Fresh Herbs, I used Rosemary, Basil and Thyme
  • Red Pepper 1/4 cup (I don't like spicy things)
  • Water 2 Quarts
  • Apple Cider Vinegar 6 Cups
  • Pickling Salt 1/2 Cup
Pick and clean about one gallon of fiddleheads (best with about 3 inches stem and before they curl out). Place in cold water until ready to blanche them.
Sterilize jars and lids.
Blanche fiddleheads for 5 minutes in boiling water (safety first!). Place them in a colander to drain.

Peel and cut into quarters about 8 cloves of garlic. Set aside in small bowl. Have dill weed and crushed red peppers ready with the garlic and shallots.
In large pan, pour 8 cups water, 6 cups apple cider vinegar and 1/2 cup pickling salt. This mixture has to be boiling when poured over fiddleheads.
Take sterile jars out of water and sit on thick towel. Place equal amounts of garlic in each jar. Place approximately 3 stems of dill weed, your variety of fresh herbs and 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper in each jar with garlic. Stuff drained fiddlestick on top of garlic, dill and peppers. I try to pack mine tight by pushing the fiddleheads down into the jars, otherwise they tend to be bulky and take up a lot of space.

Pour boiling vinegar mixture over fiddleheads leaving a small space at top of jar. Quickly cover with sterile lid and ring and finger-tighten immediately. Boil the jars with lids on for 10 minutes. Remove sealed jars and place on a thick towel or wood cutting board to cool overnight.

After jars cool, check that they have sealed properly. Label and let sit in pantry for a month or two. They are best if served chilled on delicious gouda or atop a tasty bloody mary.

Tunes: While picking I listen to my silly blonde dog run around sniffing marmot poop and while canning I think I was just listening to some NPR.

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