Judith Hausman
August 28, 2013

pickled fennel

Photo by Judith Hausman

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Pickle some fennel!

Just as a light poaching in sugar syrup helps me keep local fruit just a little longer, light pickling can do the same for seasonal vegetables. I gave a generous CSA share of green beans this treatment because I was going away for a weekend and didn’t want them to spoil. Then, a local and organic fennel bulb came into my possession, too precious to waste, and a licorice-flavored pickle again seemed a good idea.

I’ll serve the pickled fennel in two combinations after it steeps for a day or so in the brine. First, I’ll toss some with a dice of garden tomatoes and some olive oil … maybe also with some feta cheese and leftover corn cut from the cob. If I mound it on bread slices, it will make a kind of bruschetta. Then, I’ll use it for a lunch or expanded salad, mixed with cranberry beans and oil-packed tuna (often Italian or Spanish). Black olives might also be a good addition. Slices of crusty bread will be used for scooping up this dish.

I used lime zest for my batch, but orange or lemon zest work nicely, as well. And if one element of the licorice triple-whammy (aniseed, fennel seed, star anise) is missing from your spice cabinet, don’t worry. Just add more of one of the others. Organic fennel is markedly smaller than the supermarket kind, so you might need two for this recipe, or just halve the amounts if you have just one bulb.



  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 teaspoon aniseed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • about 4-inches lemongrass stalk, outer layer removed, chopped
  • zest of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced, some fronds reserved and chopped



Mix all ingredients except the fennel. Simmer or microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, until the salt and sugar dissolve.

Transfer to a nonmetallic container, and stir in the fennel. Cool and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, turning the fennel occasionally.

You might also enjoy these Locavore Recipes:

Pickles and Relish

Garlic Pickle Scapes

Read more of Locavore Recipes »

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