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!
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.
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.
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
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
- fresh herbs like rosemary, sage, dill, or thyme
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…
- use it to top hot dogs, sausages, brats, and burgers off the grill.
- add it to salads and slaws
- top fish tacos
- layer onto deli sandwiches
- make it part of an antipasto platter
Have you caught the quick pickling bug?
Check out my How to Quick Pickle (almost) Anything post, it’ll give you all the details.
- Quick Pickled Rainbow Carrots
- Quick Pickled Vidalia Onions
- Pickled Blackberries and Grapefruit Salad
- Quick Pickled Jalapeños
- Quick and Spicy Refrigerator Pickles
Quick Pickled Fennel
- 1 clean quart sized Mason jar
- 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
- 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 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 wtih 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.