How to CookDIY FoodSpringWinterSnacks

How to Make Pickled Fennel

164 + Save

If you like it, save it!

Save and organize all of the stuff you love in one place.

Got it!

If you like something…

Click the heart, it's called favoriting. Favorite the stuff you like.

Got it!

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Extend the winter vegetable season by a few more weeks by making a jar of pickled fennel from Angela Brown of The Chef's Wife.

When I was growing up, family gatherings were pretty serious food events. Any time family walked through our door, the dining room table would immediately be loaded with platters of shellfish, pasta, trays of antipasto, and baskets of freshly baked breads.  

Along with these heavier options, there always sat one unassuming platter filled with pieces of roughly chopped fennel, or finochio, as my grandmother used to say. Fennel, which acts as a digestive aid and a fresh, crisp palate cleanser, would remain on the table throughout our meal.

More: Everything you need to know to hack into a hairy bulb of fennel.

The fennel was always my favorite treat to nibble between courses. It was a sort of like vegetable candy, its mild anise flavor similar to the long strings of licorice I used to eat by the handful. 

Fennel season is beginning to wrap up, but it’s possible to extend it into early spring by pickling a bulb or two. Simply slice the raw fennel into thin, crescent-shaped slivers and give them a bath in an orange-infused brine. The final product is a beautiful winter pickle that tastes a bit like black licorice with a subtle orange hint. It’s the ideal way to carry fennel with you even after its season ends.

Pickled Fennel with Orange Zest

Makes about 2 cups

1 to 2 fennel bulbs, stalks removed
1 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons orange zest


Slice the fennel into very thin slivers. Rinse it thoroughly and set aside. 

Add all of the remaining ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to a boil. In the meantime, tightly pack the sliced fennel into a glass jar. 

Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the brine to cool for 1 to 2 minutes. Next, pour the brine into the jar, being sure to cover the fennel completely. 

Allow the jar to cool to room temperature, then seal it with a tight-fitting lid. 

When kept covered and chilled, the pickles will keep well for 1 to 2 weeks.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Angela Brown

Tags: small batch, how-to & DIY, fennel, pickles, pickled, pickled vegetables, snacks, spring, winter,

💬 View Comments ()

Comments (10)


12 months ago Jessalynn Kate Grant

Can this recipe be canned in a water bath?


about 1 year ago Charles Mortensen

Your article brought back great memories. My grandfather was of Sicilian decent, and every holiday meal was proceeded by an appetizer of finochio and olives. I can still remember the crazy look the produce guy at Jewel gave me when I asked him where the finochio was. It took me a long time to find out the English name of fennel! Recipe sounds great, I'll have to try it.


over 1 year ago tamater sammich

Thanks for this…and while we're talking pickles, do you know of a pickling brine recipe for capers? They're actually nasturtium buds a great substitute for capers, and since capers are so costly, I've decided to plant lots this year.

Recipes anyone?


over 1 year ago CarlaCooks

I just picked up a copy of River Cottage Handbook No.2, Preserves from the library and cam across a recipe for pickling nasturtium capers. It calls for: 15 g salt, 300 ml water, 100 g nasturtium seed pods, a few peppercorns (optional), herbs such as dill or tarragon springs or bay leave (all optional), and 200 ml white wine vinegar. You start by dissolving 15g salt in 300 ml water. Once dissolved, add the nasturtium seed pods and leave for 24 hours to brine. After 24 hours, drain and dry the seed pods. Pack them into two small jars with a few peppercorns and herbs of your choice (both optional). Cover with the vinegar and seal the jars with vinegar-proof lids. Store in a cool, dark place and leave for a few weeks before eating. Use within a year.

over 1 year ago Angela Brown

I've never done so myself, though The recipe Carla shared sounds pretty great! I'll definitely have to try it out!!


over 1 year ago tamater sammich

Carla, you came through quick!
I'm doing up my nasturtium seedlings this afternoon. For anyone who's interested, these gorgeous flowers aren't hard to grow. You can buy seeds to grow in little bush shapes, or vining ones. And they don't need fertilizer. In fact, you get more blooms without fertilizer.
For some reason I didn't have much luck searching the net at large, for a recipe. This is much appreciated.


over 1 year ago Anna Hezel

This looks amazing. Any recommendations for things to eat it on/with?

over 1 year ago Angela Brown

Hi Anna. I like putting them on sandwiches for a fun, acidic twist. I also chop the pickled fennel slices up into smaller bits and toss them into warm side salads.


over 1 year ago Megan

I made these over the weekend- and really enjoyed them. I tossed some in a salad w/ escarole, orange & tangelo segments, and oil-cured black olives. Used the brine+olive oil for the dressing. It was yummy!

over 1 year ago Angela Brown

I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed them! That salad sounds awesome--definitely something I would like!