21 July 2014
Fennel and orange pickle
Cauliflower is not the only thing I am pickling this year! Nope. In fact, the pickling vat has been going on and off for several weeks now, and all the results are nothing short of thrilling.
I made yet another batch of my favorite pickled peppers ever, from Emmycooks (come back, Emmy!), doubling the recipe and adding some green beans into the mix. The results are stunning and delicious, and I can't wait to start tossing those beans into weekend bloody marys.
But the real star of the pickling season so far has been a surprise underdog: refrigerator pickled fennel.
This was yet another CSA save. We got multiple heads of fennel two weeks in a row. I am generally not into the typical shredded fennel salad, and so was kind of at a loss for what to do with it. But no more! This is hereby my default way to deal with any fennel that shows up at our house -- at least until I start experimenting with other pickle variations. A lemon variation would certainly be on the table, as would the inclusion of some fresh ginger. Oh man. I'm super excited to try that.
Seriously, it's SO GOOD. It is amazing. I am amazed.
This is heavily based on the pickled fennel with orange recipe in The Joy of Pickling, which is an excellent book and well worth a look if you like pickles even a little. The main change I made was to switch out the white wine vinegar for champagne vinegar, which I find smooth and delightful, and which I actually had in the cupboard besides. I also bumped up the orange zest, because who doesn't love orange zest? And everything worked out beautifully. Hooray!
Though it looks small, it is mighty.
Fennel and orange pickle
adapted from The Joy of Pickling
2 heads fennel plus a few fronds (more or less for decoration)
1 tsp pickling salt
zest of 1 orange
6 tbsp champagne vinegar
juice of 1 orange (approx 6 tbsp)
1 tbsp sugar
semi-optional canning funnel
chopstick or flexible spatula
Start by trimming your fennel bulbs, halving them, and slicing them thinly. In a medium bowl, toss your sliced fennel with the pickling salt. Let this sit for about an hour, so the salt begins to drain some of the juices from the fennel.
When the hour is up, drain off any accumulated liquid. Pack your fennel slices, fronds, and orange zest into a clean pint jar. I used wide strips of orange zest, but I'd recommend that you go for thin strips, either by using an actual zester or by slicing up strips taken with a vegetable peeler. Be careful just to include the zest and no white pith.
To make your brine, crush your peppercorns roughly with a mortar & pestle or the bottom of a measuring cup. Put your pepper, vinegar, orange juice, and sugar into a small pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer, swirling occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved.
Using the canning funnel, pour your brine into your jar, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace at the top. Use your chopstick or spatula to go around the edge of the jar, releasing air bubbles. Top up your brine if needed, cap your jar, and put your pickles in the refrigerator overnight.
After 24 hours, crack your jar open and taste your pickles. Try not to just eat the entire jar with a spoon.
Since this is such an unusual pickle, I bet you guys are wondering what to do with it (besides eating it with a spoon, which I heartily recommend). Well, I have found it to be excellent on toasted cheese sandwiches, usually with a milder cheese such as emmenthaler, along with plenty of cracked pepper. A super-simple snack platter of crackers with said emmenthaler, a smear of mustard, and some fennel pickle would be an excellent variation. It's definitely delicious tossed into a green salad, preferably with some orange supremes thrown in. And if you are of the sausage in a bun persuasion, how about searing one up and topping it with big handfuls of pickled fennel?
But I won't judge you if you just eat it with a spoon.
Who else is making crazy pickles this summer? Forget popsicles, right? PICKLES WIN.
(Oh, also I am suddenly going to BlogHer14 this weekend! If you are going, let me know & let's meet up!)