Of course, the window of opportunity to have fresh fiddleheads is a narrow one. Preserving them by canning and pickling allows you to enjoy them year round. In early spring, it’s all about serving them straight up, but I put up a good deal too, pickling them, as well as freezing some in vacuum packs for the winter. Freezing is the most common and safest way to preserve fiddleheads.
To freeze fiddleheads make sure to follow these steps:
1.Clean them by cutting off any browned stem ends and removing the brown, papery outer shell by gently rubbing them under cold running water. Be sure to rinse them thoroughly.
2.Blanch a small amount of fiddleheads at a time for two minutes in 4-6 cups of water. As a reminder the blanch time starts when the water comes to a rolling boil after adding the produce.
3.Cool in a ice bath immediately after blanching (half ice water mixture)
4.Dry thoroughly and place into moisture and vapor proof containers such as resealable plastic bags. Do not over fill bags.
5.Place container in freezer.
6.To use frozen fiddleheads thaw in refrigerator or cold water. Cook in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes, drain and rinse and put into fresh salted water and boil for another 15 minutes.
PRESSURE COOKER CANNING METHODS ARE NOT RECCOMENDED FOR FIDDLEHEADS. tHE PREFERRED AND SAFEST METHOD IS BOILING WATER BATH CANNING.
Plain and Pickled Fiddleheads
- cider vinegar
- ⅛ teaspoon each of pepper, ground nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice and celery seed
Pour enough vinegar over the fiddleheads to cover; then strain it off into a pan. Add 1 cup sugar for every gallon of vinegar. Add a large pinch of each of the spices and celery seed. Boil this syrup for 7-8 minutes; then pour over the fiddleheads in pint-sized jars. Seal and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water process canner.
Sweet Pickled Fiddleheads
- 1 quart cider vinegar
- 5 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
Mix vinegar, sugar and salt in saucepan; bring to a boil, pour over fiddleheads in pint-sized jars; seal; process 10 minutes in boiling water process canning kettle. Makes 6 pints.
Sugar-Free Fiddlehead Pickles
- 1 gallon vinegar
- 1 teaspoon powdered saccharin (if desired)
- 1 teaspoon powdered alum
- ½ cup salt
- ½ teaspoon powdered cloves
- 1 teaspoon powdered allspice
- 1 tablespoon powdered cinnamon
- ½ cup dry mustard
Pack fiddleheads into jars; pour enough liquid to cover fiddleheads; seal at once. Process for 10 minutes in boiling water bath. Let stand at least two weeks before using.
Mustard Fiddlehead Pickles
- 1 quart button onions (peeled)
- 1 quart fiddleheads
- 2 cups salt
- 4 quarts water
- 1 cup flour
- 6 tablespoons dry mustard
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 quarts vinegar
Wash and prepare button onions and fiddleheads. Mix salt and water. Pour over fiddleheads. Let stand overnight. Bring to boil, and drain in colander. Mix flour and dry mustard. Stir in enough vinegar to make smooth paste. Add sugar and vinegar. Boil until thick and smooth, stir constantly. Add the fiddleheads and cook until they are just heated through. (Overcooking makes them soft instead of crisp.) Pour into jars and seal immediately. Process 10 minutes in boiling water process canner. Makes 8 pints.
Quick Sour Fiddlehead Pickles
- ½ gallon cider vinegar
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup salt
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup mustard seed
Mix ingredients, bring to boil. Pour over fiddleheads in pint-sized jars; seal; process 10 minutes in boiling water process canner.
Bread and Butter Fiddlehead Pickles
- 4 pounds fiddleheads
- 3 large onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup salt
- cold water
- 3 trays ice cubes
- 5 cups sugar
- 5 cups cider vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
- 1 ½ teaspoons celery seeds
- 1 ½ teaspoons mustard seeds
In 8-quart enamel, stainless steel or glass container, stir fiddleheads, onions, salt and enough cold water to cover fiddleheads until salt dissolves; stir in ice. Cover; let stand in cool place 3 hours. Drain fiddleheads and rinse with cold running water; drain thoroughly.
Measure sugar, vinegar, turmeric, celery seeds and mustard seeds into 8-quart Dutch oven or heavy saucepan. Over high heat, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; simmer, uncovered 30 minutes, stirring often. Meanwhile, prepare jars and caps. Add fiddleheads and onions to Dutch oven; heat to boiling. Spoon hot fiddleheads into hot jars to ¼ inch from the top. Immediately ladle syrup over fiddleheads. Process 10 minutes in boiling water process canner. Cool jars and test for air tightness. Makes about 6 pints.