Typically when I travel to near and far places, I take a yoga class at as many different studios as possible. This past week, I spent several days down in Atlanta, GA; amidst all the downward dogging, I couldn’t help but notice the plethora of fried pickles at several bars around town. Mostly cucumber pickles, but also the occasional okra and fried cauliflower pickle. Though not fried, I also sighted a vinegary batch of pickled fennel. Bizarre? Apparently not… A few weeks back, a friend and I were enjoying our evening at Birroteca, drinking some very strong beers, making new friends, etc., when the bartender noticed my copy of Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving peaking out of my tote bag (I SWEAR I don’t usually carry it around with me). This prompted her to 1) ask me if I wanted a job as their resident pickler, and 2) offer us a sample of every pickle in the joint, which included a taste of their pickled fennel. Let me first say that I’m usually a bit put off by the licorice flavor of fennel, but this cocktail garnish was surprisingly really good!
This pickled fennel recipe was inspired by various cocktail bars and Honest Food. Try this pickle in lieu of traditional relish on any sandwich or burger, mix it into salads, or use it as a cocktail garnish. Enjoy!
- 2 large or 3 medium bulbs of fennel
- 2 fennel fronds
- 1-1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cups white wine vinegar
- 2 cups red wine vinegar
- 3 Tbsp salt
- 2 inch long pieces of lemon zest (white removed)
- Clean fennel bulbs, chop off stalks, slice bulbs into 1/4-1/2' inch thick slices.
- In a medium-sized, non-reactive pot, combine vinegar, salt, sugar, and vanilla extract. Bring to a boil. Add lemon zest.
- Add sliced fennel to vinegar mixture. Cover and remove from heat. Let steep for 5 minutes.
- Add fennel fronds to the bottom of prepared (clean and sterilized) jar. Pack fennel pieces into jar on top of the fronds. Pour vinegar mixture atop fennel and fronds, leaving 1/2' inch headspace.
- Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings (finger tight). Process in hot water bath for 15 minutes.
- Remove jars from canner, let cool on folded towel for 12-24 hours.
- Let rest in a cool, dry place for at least 1 week before consumption.