Fiddlehead Fern Pickle
30 Min

Fiddlehead Fern Pickle

Of all the wild edible plants that grow in our country, the ancient fiddlehead ferns are the most unique and flavorful. They are the unfurled new leaves of a fern. Reproducing through spores and not seeds of flowers, these ferns have been on our planet a hundred million years before dinosaurs walked the earth. With a flavor that crosses between artichoke and asparagus, fiddleheads are packed with antioxidants, omega acids, potassium, iron and of course, fiber. Like most other ferns, they grow all over the country but like cool, moist, and forested areas. In India, where they grow wild in the northern mountainous state of Himachal Pradesh, fiddleheads are often turned into a sabzi (cooked vegetable) or in a pickle. These are not the brined mild pickles of the west but more of an intense, tart, salty, spicy oily pickle that is eaten alongside a meal for an intermittent small spicy bite. Enjoy this pickle on the side or put on toast and cream cheese or in pasta or a pilaf.

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Cook Time

30 Minutes



Step 1
Trim the fiddleheads and set them aside.
Step 2
In a large frying pan over high heat, warm up the mustard oil and when it is visibly hot, add the sliced garlic. Fry it for a few seconds or until it turns light golden brown then add the cumin, fennel, and coriander seeds. This only takes a few seconds and let the seeds sizzle and pop then add the jaggery, vinegar and salt and bring to a boil. Then add the olive oil.
Step 3
As soon as the jaggery has dissolved into the mixture, add the serrano peppers and fiddleheads and immediately, turn the heat off. Cover for a few minutes. Place the pickle in a glass jar or containers and refrigerate it until ready to try.
1-pound fiddleheads
4 tablespoons mustard oil
3 to 4 large garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 serrano peppers, sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon jaggery
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Notes & Variations

  • The fiddlehead pickle will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
  • The extra layer of olive oil added at the end acts as a preservative. No oxygen is allowed to escape the bottle as the oil is covering the top.
  • Fiddleheads can only be foraged or sometimes can be found at specialty grocery stores like Central Market.
30 Min

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Quick & easy way to add a punch of acid to any dish.