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Quick Pickled Fennel




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slicing fennel on a mandoline slicer

Quick Pickled Fennel is a zippy condiment that works with just about anything you’ll pull off your grill this season.  It’s great in salads, and I love to eat it straight out of the jar.  Practically zero calories and over the top flavor!

quick pickled fennel in a mason jar

Pickled fennel is a delicious introduction to a beautiful vegetable

Fennel is a healthy veg that doesn’t get enough love here in the US, but it’s prized in Italy, where it grows wild all over the countryside. You can eat every part of the fennel plant, from the bulb, to the stalks, fronds, and seeds.  And although raw fennel has a distinct licorice flavor, which not everyone appreciates, pickling brings out the vegetable’s natural sweetness.  So if you’re on the fence about this crunchy bulb, give today’s recipe a try.

bulbs of fresh fennel, in a plastic bag

I ordered a bulb of fennel on Instacart the other day and we got a huge bagful instead, so we’ve been eating lots of it this week.  I decided to pickle my last bulb, and I’m so glad I did, it’s a great way to make it last a little longer.

Raw vegetables are great, but they can be a little dull.  Quick pickling  softens their texture while maintaining that natural crunch.  Tangy vinegar and subtle spices elevate plain vegetables to a gourmet status.  And if you’re looking to eat healthier or lose pounds, this is perfect. There’s nothing more diet friendly than quick pickled carrot sticks.

What’s the difference between quick pickling and regular picking?

  • Quick pickles are made the same way as regular pickles, but they aren’t meant to be canned. They’re kept in the refrigerator and need to be consumed within a month.
  • ‘Quickles’ are ready to eat almost immediately; once they’ve chilled, you can dig in.  So you can make them in the morning and enjoy them the same day.
  • You have a lot more leeway to get creative with quick pickles because you don’t have to worry about ph levels for safe canning.
  • Quick pickles stay super crunchy because you skip the cooking stage.

slicing fennel on a mandoline slicer

Pickling is such fun because you can really play around with the spices you use.  Many flavors will work, and while you can always buy a pre-made ‘pickling mix’ in your supermarket, it’s just as easy to make your own.  And that way you can make custom blends for each pickle project.

Simple spice mix for quick pickled fennel

  • fennel seeds (of course!)
  • mustard seeds
  • black peppercorns

Getting ready to quick pickle fennel

The spices are heated in a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water, with a little sugar and salt added.  I like to use apple cider vinegar, or any light colored vinegar so it looks pretty, and the flavor doesn’t overwhelm the fennel.

Fresh flavor additions for quick pickles

  • lemon or orange peel
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • fresh herbs like rosemary, sage, dill, or thyme

adding pickling liquid to fennel

How to use pickled fennel

Your pickle is ready as soon as it chills, but will keep in the fridge for a month (if it lasts that long!)  Here are a few suggestions for what you can do with it…

sampling some quick pickled fennel

 

Have you caught the quick pickling bug?

Check out my How to Quick Pickle (almost) Anything post, it’ll give you all the details.

slicing fennel on a mandoline slicer
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4.91 from 11 votes

Quick Pickled Fennel

Quick Pickled Fennel is a zippy condiment that works with just about anything you'll pull off your grill this season.  It's great in salads, and I love to eat it straight out of the jar.  Practically zero calories and over the top flavor!
Course condiment
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Yield 1 quart

Equipment

  • 1 clean quart sized Mason jar

Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 small bulbs fennel
  • 1 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (you can also use white wine vinegar, or any light colored vinegar)
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns

Instructions

  • Trim the top stalks from the fennel, reserving some of the fronds. Trim the root end and peel any tough outer layers away.
  • Slice the trimmed bulb very thinly (1/8 inch) on a mandoline slicer, or with a very sharp knife.
  • Fit the fennel slices tightly into a wide mouth quart mason jar. I like to add a few fennel fronds into the jar as well.
  • Put the vinegar and water in a small saucepan with the spices. Heat to a boil, then pour everything into the jar with the fennel. Make sure the fennel is completely covered with pickling liquid. If not, add a little more water to top off.
  • Let cool at room temperature, then cap and refrigerate. It's ready to enjoy as soon as it's chilled, and will keep up to a month, refrigerated.

pickled fennel pin

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8 Comments

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  • Reply
    Barbara
    June 7, 2020 at 3:54 am

    5 stars
    Jars are cooling on counter. What a fun quarantine project! Cant wait to taste. I thought about adding Pernod, but wonder if ht would turn the liquid a strange opaque color. What do you thik? I tried to rate with five stars, but am no able to do so.

    • Reply
      Sue
      June 7, 2020 at 8:07 am

      Adding Pernod is a tantalizing thought, let me know if you try it.

  • Reply
    Sue R
    June 6, 2020 at 5:34 pm

    5 stars
    This was lovely! Happy with it. It won’t let me give 5 stars only 3 for some reason so not clicking on it.

  • Reply
    Sue R
    May 22, 2020 at 4:34 pm

    5 stars
    Mine is just made and looks so nice! Not done anything like it before so I’ve finally used my new mandolin..well not so new just not used yet lol. I was planning on putting garlic in then realised since the pandemic I’ve just been using tubes of garlic puree so not putting that in there. Guess I can pick some garlic chives from the garden and add them though. I like that idea 🙂 I love what Andrea said about orange slices. Wow that would be good too with fennel! I can’t wait to try it.

  • Reply
    Andrea
    May 17, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    5 stars
    I use water bath canning to preserve pickled fennel flavored with orange slices, honey, cumin, coriander and pepper. This sounds like a nice light and quick alternative, thank you!

    • Reply
      Sue
      May 17, 2020 at 7:42 pm

      I bet those same flavors would work well in a quick pickle.

  • Reply
    Deb
    May 13, 2020 at 2:16 pm

    Wow I had some fennel in my refrigerator not to much but I had a carrot and cucumber and onion too just added all together and it’s chilling thanks

  • Reply
    Ann-Marie
    May 13, 2020 at 7:59 am

    5 stars
    I love this! For my sister’s birthday one year, I tried to recreate her favorite restaurant meal of that year, and it was hoisin shrimp over roasted fingerling potatoes topped with pickled fennel, and it was the first (and last) time I made pickled fennel, even though it was my favorite part of the meal. Definitely making this weekend and delivering a 2nd jar to her doorstep. Thank you for the recipe, which looks way more flavorful!