This must have had happened to you many times or at least once in your life – you get back home with fresh vegetables, use some of them and refrigerate the rest, and after a few days, bang, you see that your stored veggies have either rotted away or have gone limp!
You start to wonder what went wrong.
Obviously, you are unable to use these wilted vegetables for your cooking. So you don’t have any other option but to throw them away – what a waste of money!
Most of the time, the main culprit behind this awful result is the way you store your veggies. Most homeowners are quite careless in terms of storing veggies, especially when it comes to fennel. They often stock up fennel by shoving them with fruits in their fridge drawer.
What people aren’t aware of is that fruits and vegetables don’t sit well together. That’s because most fruits produce ethylene gas that speeds up the spoilage process of the food. This is the reason why people should avoid storing fennel with other kinds of fruits.
To learn how you can store fennel in a way that it remains crisp and fresh, read this blog post. Here we have also discussed some other important details regarding fennel that you must know about.
A Short History of Fennel
The history of fennel dates back to ancient times when it was easily found and commonly used in the Mediterranean area. The vegetable is a part of the Apiaceae Family which also includes carrots, parsley, dill, coriander, parsnips, and caraway.
In ancient times, fennel was a favorite among Roman warriors who consumed it to keep themselves healthy and strong. It was also popular for its use of maintaining one’s weight as it is evident from its Greek name – marathon (grow thin).
Did you know that the town of Marathon means the “place of fennel”? The town is where the famous battle between the Athenians and the Persians took place. The Athenians won the battle and used woven fennel stalks as a symbol of their victory.
Fennel holds a lot of importance in history as it is evident in the writing of Pliny – a famous Roman writer and philosopher – who said that fennel is “a wonderful property to modify our sight and take away the film that overcasts and dims our eyes”.
6 Ways to Store Fennel
1. Storing Fennel in the Refrigerator
The most ideal and popular method of storing fennel is in the refrigerator. Although refrigerating it may seem like an easy option, if not done properly, fennel can easily become soft and acquire brown spots.
Loosely wrap the fennel in a plastic bag and then place it in the vegetable drawer. However, make sure that the drawer is not overstuffed with other vegetables. Fennel, like any other vegetable, needs room to breathe.
Therefore, it is important that you store fennel slightly away from other vegetables, maintaining a certain level of distance between them. You can also cover fennel with a moist kitchen towel and then refrigerate it. This will help extend the shelf life of fennel up to 10 to 12 days.
Fennel can remain fresh when stored in a cooler temperature. This is why preserving it in a fridge is the ideal option. However, fennel possesses high water content which means that it can easily freeze in an intensely cold fridge. This will make it hard for you to use the fennel at your earliest, as the vegetable will take time to defrost.
Some people tend to store the stalks and bulbs of fennel in a separate bag. Experts say that there is no need to do that. If you have separate uses for the bulbs and stalks, then you can consider storing them in a separate plastic or paper bag. Otherwise, there is no need to cut the stalks and bulbs apart and then store them.
2. Put it in a Glass Container with Water
It is a commonly known fact that if herbs are not utilized quickly, they may not stay fresh enough to be used at a later time. The same goes for fennel herbs as well.
Fill a large glass container with cold water and then put in the fennel leaves. Don’t forget to seal the container to avoid contaminants entering into the water. This is an ideal fennel storage method for those who consider plastic bags unsanitary.
Make sure that you don’t refrigerate fennel in the coldest area such as the back area of your fridge. This will cause fennel to freeze, eventually destroying its texture as well as flavor. Place the glass container near the front of the fridge.
The fennel in a glass container can easily be stored for up to 5 to 6 days. But if you want to extend its shelf life, it is advised to store it in a plastic bag.
3. Freeze Fennel Leaves
Another suggested way to preserve fennel is by freezing it. To achieve this purpose, you will need to cut the leaves from the stalk of the fennel. Instead of cutting it with a knife, you can gently pull the leaves off the stalk. Next, put at least 1 spoonful of freshly cut fennel in each section of an ice tray. Then fill each section with some water and place it in a freezer to freeze.
The end result would be a tray with perfectly-shaped ice cubes with fennel leaves in them. You can either use the fennel cubes in a delectable soup or sauce, whichever you prefer. To keep the fennel ice cubes fresh for some time, transfer them to a plastic or storage container.
4. Blanch the Blubs and Freeze Them
First of all, you will need to cut or pull off the herbs from the bulb of fennel. Carry out the process gently to avoid bruising the bulb. If you rashly cut the bulb, it may rot away in no time.
The next step includes blanching the bulbs. It is important to maintain the color, flavor, and texture of the bulb. Therefore, blanching them before storing them is imperative.
For blanching of the bulbs, you will need to boil water in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add in the fennel and let it boil for 2 minutes max. You can do the same with fennel leaves. But once the fennel leaves are blanched, take them out of the hot pot and transfer them into an ice-cold water bowl. Take them out and place them on a paper towel, letting them dry up for a minute or two.
Once the fennel bulbs are blanched put them in a plastic or glass storage container. Tightly seal it with a lid and freeze them. Instead of using a container, you can store the fennel bulbs in a high-quality freezer bag. Fennel can easily be preserved in a freezer for up to 5 to 6 months.
When you want to use them, simply take the container out of the freezer, thaw the fennel, and then use them the way you like.
5. Pickle it
To prepare scrumptious pickled fennel, you will need to cut a fennel bulb into small, thin pieces using a sharp knife.
Next, gather pickling ingredients and add them together in a saucepan filled with 1 cup of water. Add in 1 cup of white wine vinegar, ¼ cup of sugar, and 2 tablespoons of coarse salt. Let it boil until both the sugar and salt has dissolved properly.
You can add in more flavors such as peppercorn or lemon to make it tastier. Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool down for at least 5 minutes. Now add the fennel into the liquid and cook it for 15 to 20 minutes. Mix it properly and then transfer it in a pickle jar. You can store the fennel pickle for up to 7 days in your refrigerator.
6. Store the Fennel Seeds in a Jar
To store fennel seeds, remove the seed heads from the fennel. With the help of a knife, cut the seeds gently. You can also put the fennels in a paper bag and shake it firmly to release the seed heads. Now spread out the fennel seeds on an even and clean surface and let them dry for 2 to 4 days.
Transfer the dried fennel seeds in an airtight container. You can store it in a cabinet, drawer, or even a freezer.
Using any of these amazing preservation methods, store fennel and use it fresh and crisp whenever you like!
How to Buy Fennel
To start with the storage of fennel, it is important that you buy the vegetable fresh and crisp. Most people end up buying low-quality fennel that doesn’t last long. If you want to ensure that fennel stays fresh for a really long time, you will need to keep certain tips in mind while purchasing it.
Regardless of the place you buy fennel from, it is important that you go for clean and firm bulbs that are bright white. Fennel typically comes in three sizes – small, medium, and large. What you must know is that smaller bulbs are sweet and tender.
On the other hand, medium or large bulbs are exceptionally tender. Their level of tenderness is more apparent when you peel off its outer layer. So before buying fennel, ask the vendor to slightly cut the ends of the stalks and the bottom of the bulb.
Bear in mind that fresh fennel stalks come in a light green color while the green fronds have an intense green shade. If you find the stalks dry or the bulb is brown in its color, it means the vegetable isn’t fresh.