I remember when I started to pick up cooking many years ago, I always had this problem of not storing cooking ingredients correctly back then. One of such examples is vegetable and herbs. I use to have a problem with storing fennel and always wonder how to store fennel properly, so this vegetable can remain fresh and retain its flavor for future use.
For vegetables and herbs, it's very hard to know when to store it in the fridge or not, because some of them demand a particular storage method, like pre-wash and keep or cutting it into parts.
Fennel is a vegetable (or herb) widely known by its beneficial effects on health, and people tend to either love or hate it because it has a strong aniseed flavor that is not for everybody.
It is one of those vegetables that require a unique method of storage, as it is a very delicate plant that can lose its characteristic flavor very quickly if not store properly.
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What is Fennel?
While some regarded it as a herb but fennel is a vegetable which carried the scientific name is Foeniculum Vulgare and is closely related to carrots, caraway, anise, cumin, dill, etc.
Originally, the plant is from the Mediterranean area, but it became a common plant to many parts of the world, especially places that with dry soils near the sea.
The fennel plant is known by its bulbous base and tall leaves, it is composed by a white or pale green bulb, stalks arranged on the top of the bulb and topped with leaves and flowers.
Also, do you know that some people like to grow fennel in their garden as part of landscaping?
Another interesting fact about this vegetable is that it is one of the main ingredients of absinthe, a famous alcoholic drink.
Storing Fennel in the Fridge
Since fennel is a delicate vegetable and if you do not store them correctly, it will either go bad or lose all its characteristic flavor easily. One of the best ways is to preserve them in the fridge.
To preserve fennel correctly in the refrigerator, there are two options. The first option is by separating the stalks from the bulb and placing them in two plastic bags or glass container. If you think that using a plastic bag is unhygienic, then an alternative is to put the fennel in a container of water on the counter of the fridge.
An important thing is not washing the fennel until it’s ready to use. Given any vegetables while in the process if washing, it is unavoidable to get damage along the process. If it is not immediately cooked, the damaged spot will start to rot immediately afterward.
The following video explains the right way to prepare fennel before storing it in the fridge.
Storing Fennel in the Freezer
To freeze it, first wash it very well, then blanch it by adding it to boiling water for three minutes and quickly transfer to cold water. As soon as you take it out of the water, it should go to the freezer in a plastic bag or glass container.
You can also chop the fennel and place it in individual cubes in an ice cube trays, put water in it and freeze. So whenever you wanted to cook some soup or sauce, you can drop in a few frozen fennel cubes for additional flavor. Isn’t that creative!
How Long Can Keep Fennel in a Freezer or Fridge?
If you store it in the refrigerator, the fennel can probably stay fresh for around 7 to 10 days, and it is still good to eat. If it goes in the freezer, it lasts longer, around 10 to 12 months.
Another Option is to Drying the Fennel
Drying is another best way to preserve a fennel too.
Drying the seeds of the fennel is another way of preserving the properties of the plant and using it at home for a longer time.
The fennel seeds and the leaves can be dried, though. Although drying the seeds is more popular because the leaves tend to lose their flavor during this process.
Dried fennel seeds
You can do it by placing the seed heads in a bag and giving it a light shake, to free the seeds from the plant. Place the seeds in a tray and then let the seeds dry in a place that has good ventilation.
If your place has minimal sunshine, you can use the oven to dry the seeds, by placing them on a cooking tray and leaving it there at the lowest temperature for about 15 minutes. You just need the heat to dry up the moist in the seed so you can keep it in a glass container for future use.
Dried fennel leaves
For drying the leaves, you can tie them in a bunch, tie the end of it with a string, and hang them dry in a ventilated place. Always remember to keep it away from the sun. Otherwise, the plant may lose its characteristic flavor. Once dried, store them in a glass container for later use.
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Interesting Beliefs and History of Fennel
Since the ancient Greece, fennel was associated with Dionysus, god of food and wine, as they believed that knowledge was passed down through the stalk of the plant. And the plant is said to be an important commodity to the Greek.
Also, ancient herbalists used to have a theory that fennel could restore the vision of someone who had lost it.
Pliny The Elder, an ancient Roman author, naturalist and philosopher, and who wrote an encyclopedic work, used to mention fennel on his works, saying that the vegetable could be used as a treatment for stings of serpents, uterus health and many other health issues they used to have at that time.
In ancient beliefs, they use fennel and mixture with other herbs, to prevent the evil spirit from entering houses by hanging the herbs on the front door.
How to Cook Fennel
Any part of fennel is edible, from the bulb to the seeds and the flowers.
Dried fennel seeds can be used as a spice for the food, the leaves as a salad, the bulb can be eaten raw, stewed, sautéed, and the flower can be used as a powder, found in specialty stores.
As for cooking method, you can either slow cook it, so it becomes more silk, or you can add it raw to the salad.
This vegetable is very popular is the Mediterranean cuisine, and is commonly associated with Italian cuisine, giving the dishes a crunchy and sweet taste.
Fennel is Rich of Nutrients
Fennel is rich in nutrients and provides ample of health benefits, like the following:
One of the most important phytonutrients that are found in fennel is the anethole, known for its anti-inflammatory benefits and by the help to prevent the occurrence of cancer.
Also, as an excellent source of vitamin C, it helps to improve the immune system and to prevent osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
The fiber in fennel helps to reduce cholesterol levels to prevent colon cancer, while folate and potassium contribute to preventing heart attacks.
If you are preserving the fennel correctly, you can guarantee to have the vegetable last longer and also maintain these properties.
How to Pick Fresh Fennel
When choosing fennel, always look for soft and white skin, and the ones with no brown spots.
Also, it’s important to choose young and firm fennel if you intend to roast it because chances are it will taste less appetizing if it’s old. Look here for some delicious roasted fennel recipes.
If you see that the vegetable is bruised or discoloring, don’t buy it, because either it is old or inferior to the others.
I hope this post is informative for you and has helped to answer some question about how to store fennel. If we miss out any tips on how to preserve fresh fennel, please let us know by commenting below. Happy cooking!
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I've been the cooking for my family since 2009, and my passion for cooking grew stronger each day. Whenever I have time, I love to blog about my culinary experiences and how my kitchen has trained me to become a better chef for my family and friends.