Unlike many recipes for pickled fennel, this one makes no attempts to mask its’ distinctive licorice flavor or drown it in citrus. If anything, it highlights it, in a bright and refreshing way. This recipe using a quick pickle method that will last several weeks under refrigeration.
Pickled fennel works great on charcuterie boards as an intriguing pallet cleanser. In salads in can be a burst of flavor and texture. You might even want to use it on a Lox Bagel in place of capers or as you would sauerkraut with an Italian Sausage in a hard roll.
- Add Water, Vinegar, Sugar, Salt, and Pickling Spice to a sauce pot. Bring to a simmer for five minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Remove from heat and cool the pickling liquid before straining.
- Meanwhile slice the fennel to your desired thickness. (I recommend the width of a chefs knife, ⅛ inch, or 3 mm).
- Once the pickling liquid has cooled to around 70 F (21c), use a mesh strainer to remove the spices.
- Place your sliced Fennel and pickling liquid into a container place a weighted object on top to submerge all the fennel. Place in the refrigerator for a minimum of two hours prior to serving.
- Finally, remove weight and store refrigerated in an air tight container for up to three weeks.
- You will want to make sure the fennel is completely submerged in the pickling liquid. Using a plate, ramekin, or any weighted food safe object to push down the fennel works well. After two hours, you can remove the weight and store the pickled fennel in the refrigerator.
- Some pickle or brine recipes will call for half the water to be in ice form. This way you can boil the vinegar and water to dissolve the salt and sugar. Then you would remove from heat and add ice to shock to cool rapidly. Personally, I do not like this method as I prefer to allow the entirety of the liquid to get the opportunity to have the spices time to steep to infuse their flavor. If you are in a hurry to cool down your brine/ pickling liquid, I suggest using an ice bath. For small batches this works perfectly and is more accurate in my opinion.
- If you are uncomfortable using a knife to thinly slice, a mandolin will give you precise cuts. I do recommend using the safety guide or cut glove whenever using a mandolin.
Choosing Ingredients for Pickled Fennel
Fennel can be purchased in most grocery store produce sections year-round. But being that it is not the most commonly used vegetable, there are a few things to look for to make sure it is still good. You want to look for large white bulbs that are still relatively tightly wound. There should be no bruising and minimal browning. Look to make sure there has been no trimming of the layers or any yellow flowers sprouting. If the fronds are wilted it has probably been sitting there a while. They should look like fresh dill. That said, older fennel is still safe to eat, it just has a less pronounced flavor.
This recipe for Pickled Fennel calls for white wine vinegar. Many pickle recipes will use white distilled vinegar, which you could do. But I like to use vinegars for pickling that are more flavorful and require less added sugar to make them palatable. An alternative to white wine vinegar would be white balsamic or even a cider vinegar for this recipe.
Pickling Spice is typically a blend of Mustard Seeds, Bay Leaves, Clove, Cinnamon, Crushed Red Pepper, Peppercorns, Allspice, and Coriander. Different brands may have different spices or ratios deepening on their recipe. This is the one I typically use at home, but most are just fine and will yield similar results. The fennel is going to be the flavor you taste most in this recipe, regardless of the spice you use.
Q & A on Pickled Fennel
What do you serve pickled fennel with?
I like to use pickled fennel as a palate cleanser on charcuterie boards and cheese trays. It also works well in seafood dishes or in citrus salads. I also enjoy used it along Italian sausage or on a sandwich.
Do I need to remove the fennel from the pickling liquid?
No, pickled fennel should be stored in the brine. It is really no different than when you buy a jar of standard pickles at the store.
How long does the fennel need to be in the brine until it is pickled?
You should wait at least two hours for the fennel to be pickled. Depending on the thickness of your cuts this may vary. If you are apprehensive at all, preparing these they day in advance will ensure that the fennel is properly pickled for serving.
How long will pickled fennel last?
This pickled fennel recipe will safely last three weeks under proper refrigeration. As long as they are stored covered and clean utensils are used to retrieve them there should be no safety issues. Unfortunately, At three weeks you will start to see deteriorating quality and they should be discarded.
Do I need canning jars for this recipe?
No, since this is quick pickle and not intended on being a long-term preservation method, any food grade storage container will suffice.
Does Pickled Fennel need refrigeration?
Yes, this pickled fennel is not shelf stable and should be stored refrigerated.