I love our weekly delivery of local fruits and vegetables from Saanich Organics, through their box program. As a consumer, I love that it’s an easy way to access healthy food… And I appreciate being able to support regional agriculture and contribute to the both the environmental and economic health of my community. I’m also a former employee of a couple of the farms involved, so I know from first hand experience that I’m buying high quality produce.
What don’t I like about receiving the box? Well, the way it works, I get what I get (and I don’t get upset). And frankly, I just am not a huge fan of some veg. I’ll eat them anyway, because most things can taste okay when roasted with a bit of olive oil, salt, and garlic (or scape salt!)… But would likely never go out of my way to buy endive or escarole.
Or, for that matter, fennel.
So sometimes, there are bits that linger in the fridge for a week or three. And if more of that vegetable shows up in the next box, it joins its friends, and eventually I have four wilting fennel bulbs.
What to do? Fermentation experimentation, of course! I liked the look of the first recipe that I found when searching online for what others have done with fermenting fennel, from MoonBrine Pickles in Portland, Oregon… So that’s what I’ve played with here. I didn’t have any celery or “nice” onions, but this pickle still tasted great when I was mixing it up… I can’t wait to see how it is in several weeks.
Fermented Fennel and Lemon Pickle
yields ~ 1.5 litres
473 g fennel bulbs (I had 2 small, 2 tiny)
273 g onion (1 medium)
1 lemon (medium, organic)
5 small garlic cloves
230 g carrots (3 medium)
1 tbsp black peppercorns
50 g coarse pickling salt*
approx. 2 cups water
Thinly slice the fennel, onion, lemon, and garlic. For the carrot, I decided to try out the wavy blade on a kitchen tool my parents brought me back from Vietnam; you could just thinly slice that too.
Add the salt and stir to combine. You’ll see that the salt dissolves a bit, and pulls juices out of the vegetables… Neat!
Pack loosely into a large jar or crock. I’m using a 1.9 L wide mouth canning jar.
Add water just to cover, put a solid lid on jar, and shake to distribute water and help the remaining salt to dissolve to make the brine. Turn upright and tap jar gently on a surface so that the vegetables settle.
Replace solid lid with airlock lid, or follow your preferred fermentation set-up.
I ended up needing 2 cups of water; you may need more or less, to ensure your vegetables are submerged. This isn’t as crucial if you’re using an airlock lid or fermenting in a Fido-style container, as the jar is sealed from outside bacteria/yeasts/air. However, if you’re doing a open ferment (ie. not sealed), it’s crucial you have enough brine so that when you add a weight, the vegetables are submerged below the surface.
Let ferment at room temperature for a few weeks. It’s pretty cold in my house most the time right now, so I’ll probably taste this in 3 weeks.
* I weighed all the vegetables and it came to around 1000 g. As I’ve problems with lemons turning mouldy in the past, I decided I’d like a stronger salt brine than I usually use, and went with 5%. Multiplying 1000 g by 0.05 gives me 50g of salt… And when I used a teaspoon to measure this out onto the scale, it turned out to be 8 teaspoons, which is exactly what the original MoonBrine recipe called for! Go figure.