This pickled fennel is tasty and super easy to make. It’s crisp, crunchy and perfect for giving a fresh anise touch to any of your dishes. It works great with fish, as a side dish or to garnish a sandwich.
Everyone with a vegetable garden has probably been there: You plant your veggies. You wait for them to grow. Then the first plants are ready to eat. You eat that first plant. And the second and third. And then you forget about them a bit, as you eat other things. Then suddenly, your remaining plants turned into huge flowering shrubs. This is exactly what happened to our bulb fennel. Mind you, fennel is a very pretty plant. It has delicate feathery foliage and with flowers that insects absolutely love. It wasn’t what I had in mind though.
There are actually two types of fennel: herb fennel and bulb fennel. Herb fennel is a perennial plant. It is edible but doesn’t grow a bulb. Bulb fennel, or Florence fennel, is an annual plant. However, bulb fennel is a slightly misleading name, because the ‘bulb’ isn’t actually a bulb. It’s just the swollen stem base of the plant.
Both the “bulb” and the feathery leaves are edible, both cooked and raw. My overgrown fennels weren’t great for eating raw any more, since they’d become a bit tough. I still wanted to use them though. So I pickled them, using the same method as I did with my pickled red onions, a method known as “refrigerator pickling”. Pickling vegetables the old-fashioned way takes time and skill. Refrigerator pickling is quick and easy. The down-side is a shorter shelf-life and, as the name implies, the need for refrigeration. However, it’s perfect for making small batches.
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