Sweet Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns

Sweet Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns- Putting Up with ErinSweet Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns- Putting Up with Erin

Unless you drive a 45 year old cranky Volvo that you named “Pickle”… stupid really… the chances of being defeated by a pickle are slim. Of all the recipes I’ve put on this blog, I’ve only removed one: pickled fiddlehead ferns. It’s hard to remain unbiased when tasting my own pickles, but I figure that some people like different things so even the pickles that I’m not so crazy about (I usually get a second opinion) I leave up. The fiddlehead ferns that I made last May were an exception, they were horrible, salty, mushy, and just horrible! Fast forward a year to when I’m sitting at the bar at Blue Moon Evolution in Exeter, NH and I see sautéed fiddleheads on the menu… shutter. They were actually very tasty and the experience managed to negate my dissatisfaction with fiddleheads. Round two? Sweet fiddlehead pickles. Honestly, I had planned on keeping these pickles very very simple with no intention of recreating my previous mess. Who am I kidding, a simple pickle? Ha ha ha. Many online recipe suggestions and hours later, I pulled together a number of recipes as inspiration for these pickled fiddlehead ferns. Fingers crossed that this time I actually like them!

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.

Sweet Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns- Putting Up with ErinSweet Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns- Putting Up with Erin

In other news… I’m moving! I know, so soon, and I am sorry as this will probably not be the last time you hear about this. I recently received word that I was selected for a position at the US Environmental Protection Agency in Durham, NC. Date of departure is August 1st, and I can’t wait to discover the shenanigans and food forward community in the south! If you live in or around the Research Triangle area, feel free to drop me a line! Also, Putting Up with Erin is now a print and online contributor for Edible Seacoast. Check out my feature in the first issue!

Sweet Pickled Fiddlehead Ferns- Putting Up with Erin

Sweet Fiddlehead Pickles

Yield: 3 half pins


  • 1 lb fiddlehead ferns (trimmed and washed)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp celery seed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick (broken up)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. In a large-sized, nonreactive pot bring salted water to a boil. Blanch fiddleheads for approximately 1 minute. Remove from boiling water pot, strain, and then plunge them into a ice water bath.
  2. In another medium-sized, nonreactive pot, combine remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 7-8 minutes.
  3. Drain ferns then pack them 1/2 pint jars leaving approximately 1/4 inch headspace. Add brine and spices leaving 1/4inch headspace.
  4. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings (finger tight) and process for 8 minutes (10 for pint jars) in a water bath canner. Remove from canner, let cool on a folded towel for 8-12 hrs.
  5. Store in a cool dry place for up to 1 year.

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