You bet this pickled fennel is from 2011! Great vintage, ages nicely. When I made it, I had acquired a few extra fennels on a sale but knew I wouldn’t eat them all. Fennel is a treat, despite being pretty humble, and more expensive at times than I think it ought to be. No worries here though, just pickle up what you have and save it for that perfect savory dish. It looks pretty in the jar too. After all, that is at least 30% of why I like to can….
Pickling is an easy way to get into canning and the risk of anything toxic or malevolent residing and thriving in that jar is next to nil. Pictured is a half-quart jar which is fine but I think smaller might be better for everyday use. I never worry much about the jar size, other than does it make sense for intended audience.
Pickled Fennel with Hint of Vanilla
- 2 large fennel bulbs, or 3 medium ones
- 2 of the pretties fronds from the bulbs
- 3 1-inch slices of lemon zest, with all that white pith-y stuff removed
- 1 1/2 cups vanilla sugar (or the same amount of white sugar with 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract added) – this is great because you add at very end so one jar can have it and the other maybe sans vanilla
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 3 cups white wine vinegar
- Cut the fennel bulbs into large chunks or strips or whatever size you want-people will eat these by the piece, so cut accordingly, and don’t make it too thin or it will mushify..
- Bring the sugar, salt and vinegar to a boil. Give it a quick taste – if it is too sour, you can add a little water, but no more than 1/2 cup. Add the lemon zest.
- Once the hot water bath is ready boiling, add the fennel pieces to the vinegar mixture, cover it and turn off the heat. Let it steep for 5 minutes.
- Wrap the fennel fronds into the bottom of your cleaned jars like a nest. Pack in the fennel pieces on top of the fronds; you want the fennel to come up only to the base of the neck.
- Pour in the vinegar mixture slowly, release any air bubbles by rotating, poking with chopstick or other methods. Pour enough to cover the fennel by at least a 1/2 inch. Drop in the vanilla extract here if adding to only part of the batch (divided it among the jars, not ¼ tsp PER jar)
- Seal the jar (finger tighten only) and process in the canner for 15 minutes. Let it stand to cool on a rack.
- Wait at least a week before eating. Unopened, this should last indefinitely. Mine barely changed in color as well.
Makes about 1 quart
- It is a perennial, umbelliferous herb (I lOVE the word umbelliferous…. So Mary Poppins)
- Fennel root was a flavoring used in Sack, an alcoholic drink containing mead that was popular back in the days of Shakespeare. But more well-known – it reigns supreme in absinth.
- Lives along roadsides, apparently, which irritates me as I tried to grow it once and failed! Hardy roadside my …..
- Pairs well with pork and fish
- Flavor is pleasantly anise, licorice (don’t think red vines here)
- The stalks have uses too! Added to fish or chicken broth, like celery or lay them down in a roasting pan instead a rack.
- Fronds can be chopped like an herb and sprinkle to and fro. Can also make a fennel frond pesto that is tasty on pasta or things needing a sauce. Here is a recipe I have used in the past. It freezes great, I recommend doing so in “unit doses”
- Medicinal rumors: “gripe water” for colicky infants; relieve bronchial spasms, improve eyesight, diuretic, dysmenorrhea and induce milk production in nursing mothers. Fennel tea, also employed as a carminative and I quote “to treat flatulence by encouraging the expulsion of intestinal gas”. The word carminative does not readily allude to that reaction but I would not be concerned of this when using pickled fennel as a garnish or additive.
Random info sources: