Pickled Fiddleheads Recipe

Fiddleheads are the first wild plant food we forage each year. They break through the duff in wet spots along river and stream banks. I like them steamed or simmered and topped with butter, salt and pepper. Sauteed in butter and sprinkled with blue cheese crumbles is a favorite. The stronger flavor of the fiddleheads is a good match for the blue cheese. It’s a mouthful of flavor. But pickled fiddleheads, they’re the best.

Pickled fiddleheads are easy to make and because they’re precooked, they don’t take long to absorb the brine and flavor. You can make as little as a pint or  gallons (in pint and quart jars) at a time. In a very good year, when you can get to these ferns on time, it’s nice to put up extras to include in holiday gift baskets.




Pickled Fiddleheads Recipe - Foraging in Spring

Course Preserves
Cuisine American
Author Robin Follette


  • 2 pounds fiddleheads
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 4 teaspoons dill seed
  • 2 tablespoons pickling spice mix
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 8 peppercorns


  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes


  • Clean the fiddleheads well. Remove the papery cover and clean debris out of stems. Trim the end of the stems if they've started to split or turn brown. Boil the fiddleheads for 10 minutes. Drain.
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  • While the fiddleheads are boiling, bring the water and vinegar to a boil in a sauce pot.
  • Add 1 teaspoon of dill seed, 1 1/2 teaspoons of pickling spice, one clove of garlic and two peppercorns to each jar.
  • If you want hot pickled fiddleheads, add one-eighth teaspoon (or more to suit your tastes) red pepper flakes to each jar.
  • Divide the fiddleheads between the jars. Pour the boiling water and vinegar over the fiddleheads and fill the jar to one-quarter inch from the top. Close the jars with standard canning lids and rings.
  • Hot water bath (not pressure can) the jars for 10 minutes following standard canning procedures. Let the pickles set for about a week before eating.