Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns

Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns- Putting Up with ErinPickled Fiddlehead Ferns- Putting Up with Erin
Typically when eating ethnic foods, as long as I know it’s vegetarian, I tend not to ask what it is exactly that I’m eating a) because often I’d rather not know, and b) because most likely the name/description will be lost in translation. Korean food is the exception. Not only am I always intrigued by the assortment of pickled/fermented items for obvious reasons, but it’s fun to get a rise out of the Korean waitresses during wee hours of the morning (which while living in Baltimore after a few late night drinks, was kind of my thing). The first time a friend recommended I order bibimbap, I couldn’t resist asking what the worm looking, meaty textured, brown twiggy things were. The answer: gosari. Gosari is the Korean rendition of fiddlehead ferns. A fiddlehead is the tip of an unfurling Ostrich Fern frond, “quickly snapped off with the flick of the wrist by professional foragers in the wild.” Available for only three weeks per year (during the middle of May), they are generally harvested/foraged in the northeastern United States. 

Local veggie market + Maine + this past Saturday (May 10th) = fiddlehead fever! I came across many different pickled fiddlehead recipe variations, but found that Edible Portland‘s version was the most appealing and simplest for my first stab at pickling ferns (I still can’t get over how wild the idea of pickled ferns sounds). Once flash cooked, and ice bath submerged I was pleased to discover (under my camera lens zoom) the tiny, adorable fern leaves. As noted in the recipe below, I ended up pickling in two pint jars, but after all was said and done, and because my ferns were a bit on the small side, I could have gotten away with one packed jarful. As long as you don’t alter your water, vinegar, and salt ratio you should be find with any jar quantity.

Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns- Putting Up with ErinPickled Fiddlehead Ferns- Putting Up with Erin

Oh I almost forgot, as promised, below is a photo (sorry for the poor quality) of the new business cards! I’m pretty excited about how they turned out and on recycled paper to boot. Now I just have to figure out some other use than 1000 pretty coasters…

Pretty Business Cards- Putting Up with Erin

Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns

Yield: 1-2 pints


  • 1 lb fiddlehead ferns
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup pickling/sea salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2-3 dried pepers (optional)


  1. In a large-sized, nonreactive pot bring heavily salted water to a boil. Have a bowl of ice water ready. Add half of the fiddleheads to the boiling water and cook until they are just tender but still crisp. Remove and plunge them into the ice water. Repeat with remaining ferns.
  2. In another medium-sized, nonreactive pot, combine vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, stirring until the salt and sugar have dissolved.
  3. Drain the ferns and pack them into the jars along with 1 to 2 garlic cloves. Add the vinegar brine to the jars, leaving a 1/4-inch headspace.
  4. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings (finger tight) and process for 15 minutes in a water bath canner. Remove from canner, let cool on a folded counter top towel.
  5. Once sealed, the pickles will keep for one year in a cool, dry place.


Depending on your fern size, you may be able to pack them all into 1 pint jar. The original recipe called for 4 pints jars, but I obviously got no where close to that amount.

2 responses to Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns

  1. I am intrigued by the idea of eating ferns- sounds very brontosaurial. Hope you have a happy birthday. We miss you down here in MD.

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