Let’s delve into the wonders of fennel, a delightfully fragrant vegetable that often leaves folks stumped when it comes to storage.
Over the years, I’ve received many questions from you all, like “How do I store fennel?”, “How long does it last?”, and even, “How can I freeze it?”.
This post aims to clear those doubts and get you prepped for a fantastic fennel-filled culinary journey.
How to store fennel
To store fennel, trim off the stalks and fronds. Cut off the woody bottom of the bulb and peel away any wilted or browning layers. Wrap the bulb in a damp paper towel and place it in a plastic bag or container. Refrigerate for up to 10 days.
Fennel, with its crisp texture and aromatic anise flavor, is a real treasure in the kitchen. And storing it correctly is the key to keeping this treasure fresh and flavorful.
Start by removing the stalks from the bulb – don’t worry, we’re not wasting them, but more on that later.
Wrap the bulb loosely in a damp paper towel and then place it inside a perforated plastic bag. This way, your fennel bulb stays fresh and ready to add its unique flavor to your dishes for about a week.
Now, remember the stalks and fronds we set aside? Store them separately, as they tend to dry out faster. Use them within a couple of days to add flavor to broths or as a garnish.
What to look for when buying fennel
Knowing what to look for when buying fennel can ensure you get the best quality, making your job easier when it comes to storage.
Fresh fennel bulbs should be clean, firm, and solid without signs of splitting, bruising, or spotting. The bulbs should be whitish or pale green in color.
The stalks should be relatively straight and closely superimposed around the bulb, while the fronds – those feathery leaves on top – should be bright green and not wilted.
And here’s a bonus tip for my flavor-chasers out there: choose fennel bulbs that have a strong aroma, which indicates they’re full of flavor.
How to freeze and preserve fennel
Don’t let the idea of freezing fennel intimidate you. It’s an easy process, and it comes in handy when you’ve got an excess from the market or garden. Check out my guided post on how to freeze fennel!
To freeze, first clean and trim the fennel bulbs, then blanch them in boiling water for about three minutes. This quick heat treatment helps preserve the texture and flavor of the fennel.
After blanching, immediately dunk the bulbs in ice water to halt the cooking process, then drain and pat dry.
Cut into desired portions, pack into freezer bags, and there you go! You can now store fennel for several months.
How long does fennel last
Fennel’s longevity largely depends on how it’s stored. When properly stored in the refrigerator, a fresh fennel bulb wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a perforated plastic bag can last up to a week.
The stalks and fronds may dry out a bit quicker, so it’s best to use them within a few days. If you choose to freeze your fennel, it can be preserved for several months, retaining much of its original flavor and texture.
Pickled fennel, stored in the refrigerator, can last several weeks to a few months due to the preserving properties of the vinegar brine.
How to pickle fennel
Pickling is another fantastic method to store and enjoy fennel. The pickling process gives fennel a tangy twist, making it a wonderful addition to sandwiches and salads. Here are the steps on how to pickle fennel.
- Prepare the Fennel: Start with a fresh Fennel bulb. Clean it thoroughly and cut it into thin slices.
- Prepare the Brine: In a saucepan, combine vinegar, water, sugar, and your favorite pickling spices (like mustard seeds, dill seeds, or coriander seeds) to make a simple brine. The usual ratio is equal parts water and vinegar, with sugar and spices added to taste.
- Boil the Brine: Bring the brine mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to ensure the sugar dissolves completely.
- Pickle the Fennel: While the brine is hot, carefully pour it over the sliced fennel packed in a clean, heatproof jar. Ensure the fennel slices are fully submerged.
- Cool and Store: Allow the pickled fennel to cool completely at room temperature. Once cool, secure the jar with a lid and store it in the refrigerator.
- Wait and Enjoy: Be patient and give it a few days for the fennel to soak up the tangy brine. Your homemade pickled fennel will then be ready to enhance your sandwiches, salads, or charcuterie boards!
What are the health benefits of fennel?
Fennel is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. It also contains antioxidants, which can help protect your cells from damage. Fennel has been shown to have a number of health benefits, including:
- Improved digestion
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduced bloating
- Increased circulation
- Boosted immunity
- Improved sleep
Fennel is a healthy and delicious vegetable that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways.
Frequently asked questions about how to store fennel
Fennel is a true culinary star, and now you know the secrets to storing it right. With these methods, you can keep your fennel fresh, freeze it for future use, or even transform it into a delightful pickle.