Putting up your Harvest: How to Make Pickled Fiddleheads


When any of the 4 seasons provide a bounty of food, I make a solid effort to put some up for the remainder of the year. The practice of canning has allowed me to enjoy a variety of foods beyond their "season" and into the warmer, or colder months of the year. Learning how to preserve food thru canning methods has quickly become one my most reliable techniques for long term storage and food security. Although my family lives off grid, I still don't wish to rely on freezing or refrigeration for preserving my food. What I love most about canning, is the ability to store nutrient dense food in my pantry for potentially years after they are harvested. Recipes like these pickled fiddleheads, as well as tomato sauce, canned sardines, or classic pickles can be properly sealed, stay sealed for  long periods of time, and still maintain the fresh taste as when they were first harvested and enjoyed. By preparing these foods myself, I can avoid adding excess sugar and low-grade salts, and other less than desirable products that are found in most conventional canned food items.

Although there are a few steps to canning, the overall process is quite easy, and just after a few batches, you will have no problem filling cases and cases of jars for your friends and family to enjoy. Be mindful to keep your utensils, jars, and lids cleaned and sanitized before filling and boiling.


  • 5 pounds cleaned Fiddlehead Ferns
  • 1 cup Sea Salt
  • 1 liter unpasteurized Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Spring Water, as needed
  • 1 case wide mouth Mason jars, pin sized

Optional Seasonings:

  •  Bay Leaves
  •  Black Peppercorns
  •  Dried Chili Peppers
  •  Garlic cloves, cut in half
  • Cinnamon Chips
  • Coriander Seeds
  • Dill Weed
  • Allspice

Initial Preparation:

  1. Prepare a hot water bath in a large canning container. See HERE
  2. Heat a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
  3. In a 1 gallon jar, add 1 cup of sea salt into 1 liter of apple cider vinegar and 3 liters of spring water. Stir often until the salt is completely dissolved. Set aside.
  4. Wash and sanitize the Mason jars and lids.

Following Prep:

  1. Add the brine to a large pot and bring to a simmer.
  2. When the water is boiling, add the fiddleheads and boil for 5-6 minutes. Remove from the water and drain.
  3. While the fiddleheads cook, fill each jar with 1 bay leaf, 1 garlic clove, 1 red chili pepper, then a combo of some or all of the other herbs and spices mentioned. Try 1/4 - 1 tsp of each, depending on your preferences.
  4. Add enough boiled fiddleheads to each jar, but do not over pack and make sure they stay below the top line.
  5. Pour enough brine into each jar until just 1/4 inch below the top.
  6. Whip the rim clean and apply the lid snuggly.
  7. Transfer each jar into the canning cooker. Process for 10-15 minutes, then remove from the water and allow to come to room temp.
  8. Once cooled down, you should have heard a pop or noticed that the lids are now sinking downward. Release a bit of tension