This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Loblaws Companies Inc. All opinions are 100% mine.
Fiddleheads are one the surest signs of springs in a Canadian supermarket, usually making an appearance right around the same time as the first of the local Ontario asparagus.
These adorable little curlicues are actually the shoots of the ostrich fern, picked just as they unfurl from the soil. They’re tender with a flavour that falls somewhere between asparagus and green bean, but with a subtle grassy note that’s all their own.
With all that going for them, it’s no wonder that the team at Loblaws has picked fiddleheads as May’s featured Share the Food Love ingredient.
If you’ve been following along for a while, you probably know I’m a little obsessed with fiddleheads… I’ve stirred them into risottos and quiches, and added them to a spring-inspired version of shrimp and grits.
Sometimes I just saute them in a little olive oil with garlic and lemon juice if I’m in the mood for something simpler, or blanch them and throw them into a stir-fry for a fun change of pace.
Fiddlehead season is mercilessly short, though, so those of us who are in the know anxiously await their return each year with the kind of mild delirium that’s normally reserved for hockey playoffs and Game of Thrones season premieres.
That’s why I especially enjoy pickling my fiddleheads, because that means I can continue to enjoy them long after they’ve disappeared from the produce aisle. The end result is a tangy pickle that pairs beautifully with a charcuterie board, or that can be used as a whimsical garnish on a Caesar.
When picking out fiddleheads, look for tightly furled heads and bright green stalks that are free of discolouration. They don’t keep very long once they’ve been picked, so plan to use them within a day or two of taking them home. I find they do best if stored in the fridge in a lidded container filled with just enough cold water to cover.
Once you’re ready to cook, give them a good soak in cold water and gently rub off any brown scaly bits that might be clinging to the stems or leaves before trimming off the ends to about a 1/2″ long. Then, blanch them in lots of boiling salted water for at least 10 minutes, drain and rinse again with cold water.
(Yes, I know… that’s a really long time to blanch a vegetable, but it’s for your own good. Undercooked fiddleheads have been reported to cause some rather unpleasant digestive issues, and while the reasons for this are still unknown, Health Canada recommends cooking them thoroughly to protect yourself.)
Interested in trying fiddleheads out for yourself? Hie thee to your nearest Loblaws as soon as you can. The season will be over before you know it!
These tangy pickled fiddleheads are a delicious addition to a charcuterie board, and also make a pretty garnish for Caesars and Bloody Marys.
- ½ lb fresh fiddleheads
- ¾ cup rice wine vinegar
- ¾ cup water
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp pickling spice
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. While you’re waiting on the water, rinse the fiddleheads well in a large bowl of cold water, rubbing away any brown scaly bits. Rinse again and trim the stems.
- Add the fiddleheads to the pot of boiling water and cook for 10 minutes. Drain and rinse well with cold water.
- In a small saucepan set over medium high heat, combine the vinegar, water and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring periodically. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, or until the salt is completely dissolved, then remove from the heat.
- Place 2 sterilized 250mL jars on a clean tea towel. Divide the pickling spice and garlic cloves between the two jars. Pack in the fiddleheads as tightly as you can, then cover with the hot pickling brine. Cover with sterilized lids and tighten to finger-tight.
- At this point, the jars can be processed in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes and stored for up to a year in a cool, dark spot, or placed in the fridge and eaten within a month. For best results, let the pickles age for at least a week before cracking open.